Monday, March 24, 2008
Enjoy the books, Marlon!
Way back in December I got an email from Jen on the Moon, who is part of a librarian social group in New York. Their group decided to adopt a school in New Orleans to send books to. The slow pace of recovery in New Orleans is a huge point of frustration. So this group in New York set up an Amazon wish list; the teachers at A.P. Tureaud Elementary School added their desired books to the list, and then anyone who wanted to could choose a book from the list that would get sent to the school. They started with about 250 books on the list, but you know, you can't stop librarians from buying books. I bought three, and all the librarians I sent the message on to enthusiastically ordered books as well. 250 books is not that many, so as they got close to having no books left on their wish list, but there were still plenty of librarians with their wallets out, they added more stuff: classroom sets of dictionaries, books in Spanish, multiple copies of books by Black authors, books about jazz and New Orleans culture. One of the organizers of the New York group, a New Orleans native, went down to visit her family and took some pictures of the school and the area. It is wonderful to see the atmosphere the school has created in the middle of such devastation. (Here's an example of what the kids go through some days.)
The other day I got a lovely thank-you card from Marlon at Tureaud. I think it's Marlon. Could be Marion or Mylan. (I erased the last name for student privacy). On the front of the card an adult had written ''570 books and counting.''
For most libraries, our number one problem is shelf space. There are so many wonderful, useful, beloved books, and no library can hope to have enough shelf space for all of them. For libraries in New Orleans, there are two problems: a rather more severe than usual lack of shelf space (eight public libraries were completely destroyed), and a serious book shortage. We can't do much about the first problem, but we can get all over the second one. As an added bonus, I just found out that A.P. Tureaud himself, an important civil rights lawyer who won all the most important desegregation cases in Louisiana, worked as a library clerk while putting himself through school. It all comes back to libraries in the end.