Pay It Forward

Several years ago when I first became a school librarian, New Orleans had just been flattened by Hurricane Katrina.  When it happened, I wondered what I could do to help the schools, especially school libraries, get back on their feet.  Through the internet I found the email address of a reading specialist at one of the devastated schools.  I emailed her, and promised her some help.  I then contacted a handful of librarian friends in Georgia, told them my idea, and they were eager to lend their support.  Within a few months we sent 10 boxes of new books from Scholastic and a modest check to the New Orleans school so they could begin rebuilding their library.

After this initial success, the thought of helping schools that have been hit with a natural disaster has always been in the back of my mind.  WOW!  Wouldn’t it be great if librarians across Georgia banded together and made this an annual event?!?   Every year there are natural disasters that devastate communities and their schools, and if we all gave just a little, we could make a difference. In fact, this school year we had a natural disaster right in our own backyard.  Clarkdale Elementary School in Austell, Georgia, was almost completely submerged during the floods in early Fall.  We could rally together and help our neighbor rebuild their school library.

I know in this economy, where we are all strapped for cash, where media budgets are being slashed, and when there simply doesn’t seem to be enough to cover just the basics, it is hard to ask people to make a donation.  But isn’t it during such terrible times that we need to extend kindness the most? 

So this is what I propose: librarians of Georgia can set up some sort of fund for school libraries that have been hit with a natural disaster.  If even just 100 librarians from the thousands of librarians across the entire state of Georgia offered $50 worth of Scholastic credit, that’s $5000.00.  Certainly we could set up something with Scholastic Books, so that after a school hosts a book fair, $50 from the school’s profit could be put in this fund.  This way, the funds wouldn’t even have to come out of anyone’s annual library budget.  Instead, school libraries could have the option to donate part of their book fair profits.  The school receiving the natural disaster fund would then be able to spend the Scholastic credit on library materials that best suit their needs.

Of course there are logistics to work out and questions that need to be answered.  Who shall run the disaster library relief fund?  How would the receiving school library be chosen?  Would this be an annual event?  Should it be established as an official non-profit organization?  What should the disaster fund be called?  How do we set up the fund with Scholastic?

If there is a real desire to get this disaster fund together, all this questions can be addressed.  I am happy and willing to devote as much time and energy necessary to get the answers, and to get this disaster fund up and running.  First, though, I need to know if other Georgia librarians are interested in participating and donating.  If there is enough interest, I’ll move forward on it.

Please email me at the address below if you are interested.

Thanks so very much-

Anja Tigges, Ed.S.

Posted on March 22, 2010, in Advocacy, Reflection. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Anja, What a great idea and a wonderful opportunity for us to support one another. I’m definitely on board with helping you make this happen. I wonder how HS librarians might be best able to help as well b/c we don’t usually have Scholastic book fairs. 😦 Is there any chance Scholastic or some other book vendor might be willing to stock some HS specific content so that a fair could happen for us?

    Keep up the good work!

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