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Friends of the Library unveils Elvis collection

Janet Jeffers donated her Elvis collection to the Friends of the Library Bookstore. Pictured left to right are: Elli Childress, Jeffers, Elvis and Richard Childress. Janet Jeffers donated her Elvis collection to the Friends of the Library Bookstore. Pictured left to right are: Elli Childress, Jeffers, Elvis and Richard Childress.

Elvis is in the building at the Friends of the Library Bookstore in Hendersonville.

And he is as popular as ever, judging by the reaction of some fans who came on Thursday to see the bookstore’s new Elvis collection.
“It’s just really cool collectibles,” Carla Thompson, the Friends of the Library president, said of the store’s new collection of everything Elvis. “I don’t know that you could find them anymore.”
The recently donated collection includes about 55 books about the King of Rock and Roll along with his CDs, DVDs and VHS tapes and even an Elvis Monopoly game.
The bookstore received the extensive collection from 86-year-old Janet Jeffers of Hendersonville recently after she decided to part with the books and other items while moving to a retirement community.
“We were thrilled. The only way we are able to have this business is by donations from the public,” Thompson said.
The collection includes many biographies of Elvis and at least one about his wife, Priscilla. A book about Graceland also sits on the bookstore’s self, along with many others about the singer’s life. The DVD collection includes many of the movies Elvis made, "Blue Hawaii" among them, and DVDs of his performances. The collection also features an unopened copy of his 1973 Aloha from Hawaii performance, the first entertainment special by a solo artist to be broadcast live around the world.
The bookstore researched the items in the collection and priced them according to what they would have sold on the market. Prices for the items ranged from $3 to $100 depending on their value. Some parts of the collection were also set aside for a silent auction.
Jeffers attended a ribbon cutting for her collection at the bookstore on Thursday. It featured Elvis’s music playing in the background, a life-size, cardboard cutout of the King and one fan wearing sunglasses, fake Elvis sideburns and an Elvis T-shirt.
Jeffers said she hopes people who buy the books in her collection read them.
“I hope the books go to people who won’t just put it in a bookcase,” she said.
Jeffers said she first became interested in Elvis’s gospel recordings and later biographies about his life.
She said she was always impressed by his talent.
“Good grief, to share it like that with the world,” she said of his voice.
Jeffers, who worked as CIA employee and at the White House during the Reagan administration, said she found Elvis books and other items in different locations during her career, with at least a few finding their way to her collection during a stint in Europe.
Her friend and former coworker, 79-year-old Richard Childress, helped Jeffers donate her collection to the Friends of the Library.
Childress worked for the Reagan administration in the 1980s as its Director of Asian Affairs and Jeffers was his executive assistant.
After he and his wife, Elli, retired to Hendersonville, Childress said he encouraged Jeffers to also move to the area after her retirement.
Childress regularly donates books from his collection to the bookstore and suggested Jeffers donate once she decided to move to a smaller place.
Thompson said she was thankful for people who donate to the Friends of the Library because donations allow the store to support Henderson County’s Public Library.
“The funds we make, minus overhead, is offered to the library to pay for things the county doesn’t budget for,” she said.
The bookstore sent an email out to its 1,200 members about the Elvis collection and received many responses, including one from a music teacher who wanted to teach her young students about rock and roll, Thompson said.
Sue Prowse Tako, of Hendersonville, came to the bookstore looking for a copy of G.I. Blues. Elvis starred in the movie in 1960 along with Juliet Prowse, who was a distant cousin of Sue.
She found the movie on DVD for $5.
“I want to get this for a family history,” she said.
Rick Douglas, of Hendersonville, came to see the Elvis collection wearing his Elvis T-shirt, sunglasses and sideburns. His wife, Betty, came with him wearing earrings featuring the King’s face.
“My wife heard about it. Everything that has to do with Elvis, she tells me about,” he said, adding that he knows many Elvis impersonators and sometimes does an impersonation himself.
Friends of the Library raises funds every year through sales of used books at its bookstore off Spartanburg Highway. The sale proceeds are used to ensure that libraries in the county remain among of the top mid-size county libraries in North Carolina.
The bookstore is open three afternoons a week: Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from noon to 4pm. The entrance is at the back of the building. The store is closed on holidays and in extreme weather. All health and safety precautions are assured.