By Eileen Bailey

Daily Journal

A lack of space in the back of a station wagon was the only thing keeping Teresa Vails and David Prather from bringing home more loot from a book giveaway last week.

Vails, information services librarian for the Lee County Library, and Prather, the bookmobile librarian, were just two of more than 100 librarians from across the state who ventured last Tuesday to Camp Shelby.

They traveled to the book giveaway despite bad weather that struck much of the northern part of the state. "When we left here there was ice along the roads," Vails said. "But when we got past West Point, there was no ice anywhere."

The books were donated to the Mississippi Library Commission by the Department of Defense after it closed two military bases in Panama. Vails said the books were stacked in boxes and on palates in a building at Camp Shelby and when the doors opened on Wednesday the librarians began gathering their finds.

For four hours Prather and Vails carried books to their car. They walked away with 16 boxes filled with books of all types, but mainly reference books .

"I wish we had more room because there was no limit as to what you got," Vails said. "This was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to get a lot of books at little or no cost."

Travel was the only cost for the library. Vails said the books they got in one box alone more than made up for the travel expenses.

Other librarians showed up with moving trucks, she said.

The thousands of dollars worth of books will help provide the Lee County Library System - which includes the Itawamba County Library in Fulton - with books that would not be available otherwise, Vails said. One set of McGraw-Hill science and technology books the duo brought back would cost about $1,000, Prather said.

Most of the books will be placed in the reference pool. If there are any duplications, one would be put into general circulation and the other would remain in reference.

Vails said most of the books revolved around military topics, such as wars and machinery. It will take a while, she said, before all of the books can be cataloged and placed on the shelves.

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