Donations pouring in after nearly 1,000 books taken from Ashfield book exchange

Volunteer Frank Dufresne found the nearly 1,000 books that were available at the Ashfield Transfer Station’s book exchange had gone missing on Nov. 10. Since then, new donations have been pouring in.

Volunteer Frank Dufresne found the nearly 1,000 books that were available at the Ashfield Transfer Station’s book exchange had gone missing on Nov. 10. Since then, new donations have been pouring in. STAFF PHOTO/BELLA LEVAVI

Donations have been pouring in to replenish the Ashfield Transfer Station’s book exchange after the nearly 1,000 books in the collection were taken earlier this month.

Donations have been pouring in to replenish the Ashfield Transfer Station’s book exchange after the nearly 1,000 books in the collection were taken earlier this month. STAFF PHOTO/BELLA LEVAVI

Frank Dufresne, at left, volunteers at the Ashfield Transfer Station’s book exchange.

Frank Dufresne, at left, volunteers at the Ashfield Transfer Station’s book exchange. STAFF PHOTO/BELLA LEVAVI

By BELLA LEVAVI

Staff Writer

Published: 11-19-2023 11:59 AM

ASHFIELD — The Transfer Station book exchange had amassed nearly 1,000 books — that is, until Nov. 10, when volunteer Frank Dufresne showed up to find all the books were missing.

“I can tell you it was quite a surprise,” Dufresne said.

Dufresne checked in with local boards and Transfer Station attendants to see if someone in town government might have ordered something to be done with the missing collection, but found no answers.

Technically, the books are there for the taking and have no owner, so the book exchange volunteers decided not to file a police report.

“I hope he or she, or it — it could be an alien — finds something useful to do with all those books,” he said.

According to Transfer Station attendant Phil Nolan, some visitors had commented that the book exchange smelled moldy, which he believes may have led to the books being removed by a resident. The removal happened while the Transfer Station was closed.

The Transfer Station has hosted the book exchange in a 20-by-20-foot bay for about 30 years. Similar to a free store but for literary items, people have dropped off unwanted books for others to browse and take during the Transfer Station’s regular hours.

At times, the book exchange has consisted of piles of books in boxes, but in the past two years, Dufresne and fellow volunteer Richard Evans organized the donated books by genre. Evans and Dufresne volunteer at the Transfer Station between six and eight hours each week.

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Dufresne reported they have received positive feedback and the book exchange has been successful.

“We are astounded by the level of reading in Ashfield,” he said. “It is proof that people still read books.”

In fact, the book exchange is so important to residents that when word got out around town about the entire collection being taken, donations of books began pouring in, Dufresne said. The exchange is filling back up with donations, replacing the old ones.

“We have been saying, ‘Well, we got rid of everything so we can start again,’” Dufresne said.

Reach Bella Levavi at 413-930-4579 or blevavi@recorder.com.