How the Little Bookstore met the Big Library

An unexpected pleasure Saturday past was meeting two fans of Little Bookstore at Sycamore Shoals Celtic Festival and hearing this rather unique tale.  When I said, “this is so getting blogged” (a response friends and neighbors have gotten used to over the past months) Sue Powell  graciously obliged my request that she write it up herself. Sue is starting her own blog; we’ll be sure to let you know when she’s up and running. And now: Sue’s story.


The Library of Congress provides books and other materials to Congress and their staff. As a staff librarian, one of my responsibilities was to select books for the collection from thousands received through the Copyright Office and Cataloging-in-Publication program. LOC receives around 15,000 items daily and adds about 11,000 to the collection each day. Obviously, with those huge numbers many books aren’t selected, and for those that are, many take years to actually get to the shelf.

When selecting new books, I look for titles requested by Congressional offices, books by frequently-requested authors, books on subjects of interest to Congress and books I think they’ll request in the future.

The very place!

The very place!

Being a huge fan of Adriana Trigiani’s Big Stone Gap series, similar words caught my eye last winter as I scanned the spines in the “new book room.” I pulled “The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap” from the shelf and was further intrigued by the subtitle “a memoir of friendship, community, and the uncommon pleasure of a good book.” From the book jacket, I learned that Wendy Welch was a first-time author. I had a long list of books to look for, and this wasn’t one of them, but I wanted to read it! Also, I’d learned the reading preferences of many Congressional staffers and knew this book would interest them.

Yet more inside!

Yet more inside!

I placed the book in my cart and dropped it off with another 15-20 books to be processed and added to the Library collection within a couple of days. Wendy’s book thus took its place among the 155.3 million items in the largest library in the world! Its cataloging record would be there for other libraries to use as they added the book to their own collections.

I took a copy home to read over the weekend before I recommended it to library clients. After telling my husband about the book, he snatched it up to read as well. As I’d guessed, many of our clients eagerly accepted my suggestion and read it too.

When I retired a few months later, we moved to Kingsport, Tennessee which turns out to be about an hour south of Big Stone Gap, Virginia so one of our first weekend road-trips was to visit “Tales of the Lonesome Pine” bookstore. Wendy was tucked away in her mountain cabin writing, so we didn’t meet her then, but we met Jack and had him autograph a copy of Wendy’s book. Recently we were excited to finally meet Wendy while she was speaking at the Sycamore Shoals Celtic Festival in Elizabethton, Tennessee and tell her the story of how her first book became a part of the Library of Congress’ collection.

And if you want to look it up:  This is the catalog record for The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap.

1 Comment

Filed under Big Stone Gap, book reviews, bookstore management, humor, publishing, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA, writing

One response to “How the Little Bookstore met the Big Library

  1. Susan Alford

    Great story!

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