Couple open new chapter in lives with garage library

Filed: 04/02/2000


Californian correspondent$$$-->

FRAZIER PARK -- Alan and Sue Nicoll are addicts.

Fortunately, their habit won't destroy them. In fact, some would argue that it's a good thing.

They're book junkies. Hooked, hook line and sinker on the written word. Hardbacks, softcovers, fiction, fact. It got so bad they couldn't park the family car in the garage between the stacks of volumes they've amassed, nearly 3,000.

"We don't watch television," explained Sue Nicoll, a work-at-home medical transcriber. "We'd much rather read a good book."

The problem is what do you do after you've read the latest John Grisham novel? You can't just toss a good book in the waste can. Besides, some other bookaholic could use it.

So they they tried selling them. But when that didn't work, the Nicolls figured they'd do the next best thing -- give 'em away for free.

Now, each Saturday at 8 a.m., Alan Nicoll steps out his front door, walks a few steps, raises the door to his garage and opens the Frazier Park Cooperative Library.

It's the best place to score a book on a boring weekend, Alan Nicoll said proudly of his brain child.

No strings, no cost -- it's the cheapest reading fix in town.

Located on a small street just off Frazier Park's main thoroughfare, readers have been slow to come.

None showed up for the library's March 4 grand opening. Only a few trickled in last weekend.

"We got off to a dismal start," he said of the slow response to a few signs tacked to Frazier Park power poles and fences. "Now that we have an ad in the local paper, a few people are starting to show up."

The promise of free books may not be as enticing to Frazier Parkians as the allure of free food.

"They'll come out in droves for a free hot dog," Nicoll said shaking his head.

But those who do show up at the Nicolls' Pasadena Trail home are thrilled with the non-edible fare.

"I love to read," said Vanessia Kelly, toting an armful of free hardcovers to her car.

"I picked up some for myself, my boyfriend and a homebound lady I care for. The best thing is we can take all the time we want to read them, months if we want."

Kelly said she would donate other books she has to the library for other people to read.

Donations of either books or money to support the library have been slow in coming.

"So far we've received a grand total of $3.57 in donations," Nicoll smiled.

But that hasn't stopped the Kern Medical Center word processor from maintaining a good supply of mostly free novels and a few shelves filled with reference material that stays on site.

He pays for most of the books himself.

When the local public library sells its surplus editions he fills up the car.

Like a compulsive addict, he can't drive by a yard sale without stopping to peruse the piles of dusty, unwanted books.

As soon as he unloads them, wife Sue and son, Oliver, 4, dive right into the cartons, grabbing the titles they like.

Sue leans towards popular fiction, choosing works by Clavell, Ludlum and Michener while Oliver favors children's stories.

Voracious readers, the Nicolls devour the words like potato chips -- you can't read just one.

And when they're done, it's someone else's turn to turn a boring Saturday morning into a literary adventure. And the price is right.

The library is located in Frazier Park at 633 Pasadena Trail.

Currently, library hours are between 8 and 10 a.m. or so Saturdays with plans to expand when they get volunteers to tend the store.

For information call 661-245-0610.