Kate Mooneyham, manager of Dark Star Books in Yellow Springs, stands next to a pile of books she plans to give away. SARAH FRANKS/CONTRIBUTED

She’s Yellow Springs’ most generous book lover

Countless books of the odd and unexpected varieties are in the hands of many people who have visited Yellow Springs, thanks to Kate Mooneyham.

Mooneyham, manager of Dark Star Books in Yellow Springs, has been consistently placing a large box of free books in the alley behind her and her mother’s bookstore for over a year. On almost any day, folks taking a leisurely walk down the colorful back alley, which is decorated with murals, can snag a book they might not have otherwise given a second glance.

“If they’re stuff that’s just old and weird, I’m happy to put it out there,” Mooneyham said. “I love to see townies poking through it and finding something. … There’s things on shelves here and I’m like, well, this is a great book, but nobody’s ever going pay money for it — it’s just old or weird or interesting. If they go out for free, at least there’s a shot.”

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Stepping foot into the growing book store, it’s easy to see why Mooneyham is able to generously hand over piles and piles of books and the occasional cassette or CD collection.

Returning some years ago to her Yellow Springs roots after a life of theater work in New York, Mooneyham has been helping her mother extensively revamp the store, clearing shelves of outdated materials and working on an efficient dating system.

“I’ve been here long enough that I have a great sense of what will sell and what won’t sell,” Mooneyham said. “People I know come and say, ‘Oh I picked up a travel book from your box, it was great!’ ”

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Mooneyham’s unwillingness to dumpster old and used books is only one of Dark Star Books’ charming qualities. Mr. Eko, the 11-year-old feline who oversees productivity in the store, is always ready to give away free love to anyone in need.

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