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Donated books helping to boost library's supply

The week of April 14 was National Library Week, and perhaps no one was happier to mark the occasion than Dr. George Alexander.

Alexander, a plastic surgeon for more than 20 years, was chief of plastic surgery at MountainView Hospital for 10 years and is the president of the Clark County Medical Society.

He is also a regular patron of the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District.

“I selected my office location, in part, so it would be near Summerlin Library,” he said. “I can walk right over there, and for that half-hour, 45 minutes that I have midday, I can pick up some books or magazines, and it’s nice and quiet and peaceful, and I can get away from my busy medical practice.”

Alexander also donates books to the library district in batches of 20 or 30 at a time, throughout the year. He is not the only person who gives books to share with others. Danielle Milam, the library disrict’s development director, oversees book donations.

“We have had just a total onslaught of books over the last three years, as we’ve taken on this opportunity to be the district’s conduit for book selling,” she said. “Like, this week, we got a batch of 800 books and another batch of 600 books. It’s so interesting to see what people collect and how great the condition that they keep them in. You can tell they really loved them, cared for them and want to see them go to their next great home.”

Some donated books are in such good condition that the library district adds them to its shelves. Others are sold in the book stores at branches, costing 25 cents to $5 each. That program brings in approximately $220,000 a year, money that’s directed into library programming.

Since 2010, another way the library district recycles donated books is to sell them, along with books pulled from circulation, online through or 18 other online channels.

The used book inventory at any one time is roughly 25,000 to 27,000 books, Milam said.

During an April 17 swearing-in of new City Council members, Ward 5 Councilman Ricki Y. Barlow took the opportunity to recognize National Library Week and all the services that the library district provides. He said it made an impact on his childhood.

“It was the place where I had the opportunity to hang out during the school year, as well as over the summers, and I really enjoyed all the activities and programs it hosted,” he said. “Specifically, we used to have reading corners, and the librarian would assign us reading on Friday, and on Saturdays when we came in, we’d share ... our books. It really enlightened my knowledge base for word choices and strategic thinking and my ability to read with comprehension at a very early age.”

As for Alexander’s love of books, he ferrets out antiquarian book stores on his travels to fill his home in Queensridge. His wife, Anita, hails from the Santa Fe, N.M., area, and he pursues the aisles at the Nicholas Potter Bookseller store whenever they visit there. He said books have an edge over iPods and Kindles.

Holding a book “affects all five senses, except for taste,” he said. “There’s the visual, the smell; the particularly older books have a unique scent, and you can almost close your eyes when you walk into an antiquarian book store and detect that. And then the feel of the pages, as the books get older and older, have a crispier feel, and they get a kind of patina. ... leafing through books, I can spend hours.”

Contact Summerlin/Summerlin South View reporter Jan Hogan at or 702-387-2949.