RACINE — Eighty-nine and counting; that’s how many Little Golden Books the Racine Public Library still lacked as of Friday.
It’s a relatively small fraction of the approximately 1,100 Little Golden Books the library covets to complete its collection. In December 2010, The Journal Times wrote about the library’s desire for donated Little Golden Books.
“That story helped us out a lot,” garnering at least 300 titles, said Darcy Mohr, the library’s head of adult and youth services.
“Then it kind of dwindled again, ’till Chris (Terry) picked it up.”
Terry has been on a one-man crusade lately to help the library complete its archival Little Golden Books collection. When he started, the library needed 420 titles. Now the number is 89 and slowly shrinking all the time.
Terry said the effort started a few months ago when his wife visited the library, 75 Seventh St. She was surprised it didn’t have a complete collection of Little Golden Books because most were published in Racine, starting in 1942, by Western Printing & Lithographing Co. which later became Western Publishing.
“That shocked me, too, and I wanted to do something about it,” said Terry, 33, a salesman at Carpetland USA Flooring Center, 6051 Regency West Drive.
The first thing he did was put together a Facebook page seeking the 6½- by 8-inch books with the signature gold spines.
Terry persuaded the Founders Rotary Club to give $1,000 to buy books and the Downtown Rotary Club later gave $500.
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Terry also donated 102 needed titles and about 270 duplicate titles from the Little Golden Books collection he’d built since he was a young man. Growing up in Springfield, Ill., “I used to go to garage sales all the time,” he said. “... I was thinking one of these days I’ll be able to read these to my kids.
“I didn’t know they came from Racine till about two years after I came here.”
Since starting his quest, Terry has been scouring Amazon.com and eBay for the least-expensive copies of the needed books. Almost daily, more books arrive in the mail.
“It’s like Christmas morning every day when I go to the mailbox,” he said.
Mohr said the conditions of donated books “vary so widely, from excellent condition to pretty tattered. That’s why we don’t turn anything down.”
The archival collection will be kept in the library’s new Racine History Room, which holds archival collections of books about Racine, books by Racine authors and books related to Racine history. It will not circulate — although duplicate titles will.
“It’s been amazing how (Terry) has taken this project on,” Mohr said, “and how far he’s gone with it.”
How to donate
For a list of Little Golden Books still needed by the Racine Public Library, go to www.racinelib.lib.wi.us, see the item titled Community Drive to Find All Little Golden Books Published in Racine.
However, the library also seeks duplicate titles so they can be checked out. For more information, call Darcy Mohr at the library at (262) 636-9247.