I spent my morning on the road delivering books to high school librarian, Jennifer Smith at Sullivan High School. I’d previously shared books with Kelaine Harman, the Corporation Library Media Specialist for Washington Community Schools. I’d found these librarians through our state school librarian list serv when I was looking for school with certified librarians but small library budgets. Small?? How about no budget!
Here I was with hundreds of books that had been sent to me while serving on the Printz committee and as I’d done while on BFYA, I wanted to get the books to school libraries in need. I was glad to find schools close to me so that it would be easy to deliver books to them. Washington IN has a population around 11,000 while Sullivan is around 3.000.
Jennifer is an Indiana State U. alum. She and several of her students met me at my car to carry books to the library. The media center on the second floor of the school library was cared for in such a way that I couldn’t help but feel the warmth. It was the kind of media center that made me miss my old job! Jennifer has been able to find grants to re-design and update her space, most recently with a Mac lab that supports the schools 1:1 adoption of MacBooks.
Kelanie picked up her books when she came to campus to pick up her daughter for winter break. Both she and her husband are ISU alum, so it felt pretty special to fill their vehicle with books in the parking lot. Kelanie sent me a letter thanking me for the books in which she mentioned the fact that her students had requested many of the titles that I donated and they were looking forward to her processing them and getting them on the shelf so they could read them as soon as possible. These are students in a rural town in IN with no bookstores and one library and young people who know books and who want to read. I’m just trying to realize the effort they make to be aware of books when there are so few around them.
But their school has essentially no book budget.
If you’ve served on an award committee or have had access to books, consider donating to schools. Boston Public Schools have no librarians and no budget for books. Volunteers place books in classrooms.
Quite often it’s not that young people don’t read, but they literally cannot find anything to read.
Do you have older books or adult books to pass along? If they’re worn and out-dated, throw them away. Get over the fact that they’re books; no one wants them. If they’re still relevant, there are many places to donate them. Only give them to a library if you know that library has a limited budget. Most libraries have books, you know? We often end up acting as a middle carrier, passing along your unwanted books.
My department chair, Brian Bunnett, collects books for the local jail and several little free libraries including one in the bus station. These are great ways to pass along good books. Jails are less restrictive about reading materials than prisons and just as much in need. Boys and Girls Clubs often have libraries for young readers, too, and I’ve donated to them.
giving + books = community literacy
Know another organization in need of books? Comments, please!