Wednesday, May 24, 2006

From 0 to 10,000 in seconds flat!

This week has marked a milestone at the elementary school library I've been helping to create this year: we have crossed 10,000 volumes. When you consider that it was a year ago (okay, plus one week) that we started off with zero books... well, we've done good (and since there are 525,600 minutes in a year, you can do the math of multiplying by 60 to see just how many seconds it took us).

Now, to the librarians who stop by the blog, let me point out that I'm well aware that counting sheer numbers isn't a great measure of a collection. Yes, we have some duplicates and triplicates of books that we really don't need. Then if I were to remove some of the earliest donations we accepted when we entered almost everything gratefully into our system... well, I could take a good 15% of the raw numbers away without breaking a sweat.

But I also happen to know that our collection is pretty remarkable, all the more so considering we've done it without spending a penny of school money (which is good, as school money in CA simply doesn't get to the library level often enough regardless of the additional issues we face as a startup public school). Our picturebook shelves overflow (and that's not including the eight, great Bill Peet books a parent just donated nor the hundred or so picture books we got this week from a book drive held for us by a wonderful 6-12 school). Our MG/YA collections are honestly overflowing their shelves and stocked with amazing reads. Our non-fiction section could be stronger, but even there I suspect we are in better shape than most LA elementary schools. In fact, I know we are.

It's all a testament to a group of bullheaded parents and volunteers who have worked hard, thought outside the box, gotten lucky, and in the process, dare I say it, have shown a school full of kids how important we think books are. In return, we've been rewarded by seeing how much the kids love the library... love picking out their books... and, it seems to me, genuinely love reading. I encourage you all to help out in your own communities, because I gotta tell you, this experience has been rewarding on a level few others have ever been for me. And, of course, if you happen to have some great K-6 books that are looking for a home, feel free to get in touch!

12 comments:

Disco Mermaids said...

What an inspirational story, Greg! And when you said the parents have "shown a school full of kids how important we think books are" you've also shown them how important you think they are.

- Jay

Jen Robinson said...

Congratulations, Greg! That's very very cool! And each and every kid who you've helped to love books will reap the rewards of your efforts over and over again throughout their lives. That's something to be proud of.

Camille said...

Oh my gosh, I'm going to cry. I always tell teachers who think they want to become school librarians that they have to have a PASSION for the books or else the kids will see right through them. It is a sacred calling. Your passion for building this library will be recogized by the kids. What a gift!

Kelly said...

How great, Gregory! You should be proud!

Gregory K. said...

Thanks for the comments, y'all. It has been an amazing, incredible experience for me, as I've often said. I am a picture book junkie, so the fact that we still only have the youngest age kids has made it even more satisfying. But we're building up through a 6th grade library, and I have the sense that I'm going to be involved for a lonnnnng time. Of course, better would be for us to have money for an actual librarian with training and knowledge of how to make a library work as opposed to me, a dad with enthusiasm, a good reading voice, and a ridiculous amount of knowledge about just what comprises our 10,000 books.

Still, what we've proven this year is that waiting around for change isn't gonna cut it. We COULD have opened with no library. That's allowed. But I don't think there's a child or parent among us now who would find that acceptable... and the goal was to make sure any child who comes to our school EVER will not be faced with anything other than a surplus of great books.

mc said...

Incredible job, Greg.....Could never have been done without your extraordinary dedication and commitment !!!

Cat said...

Congratulations on your great project! Libraries are always works in flux, and your collection will and should change often . . . just go with the flow! It's great that you're getting donations as you describe. :-)

MotherReader said...

I'm amazed. And frustrated. Why (you ask)? Because the libraries in my huge, rich county get tons of donations that we sell for about $.50. Whenever I bring it up that PERHAPS we could spread the wealth around to other libraries around the country, they say we can't. Or we won't.

Maybe your next step is to figure out how to help libraries help each other.

In any case, great job.

Gregory K. said...

Because we're just a bunch of do-gooders with no bureaucracy, we can do anything we want with donations. Besides putting most on our shelves (used and new, of course), we've probably given over 1,000 toddler books, coloring books, and inappropriate-for-K-6-books away to other organizations. But sometimes we end up having to fill out paperwork to give stuff to an organization. No good, that... but then again, I bet that most donations are totally inappropriate. And I suspect that's why your library system can't/doesn't help others: it takes hours of people figuring out what to do, shipping books, etc... and time is at a premium. Plus you're part of a government bureaucracy. For now, at our school, I am the bureaucracy! Makes things easier.

Susan said...

That's very cool, Greg. Excellent accomplishment.

Camille said...

You are wired into a network of librarians now. We can mentor!

Becky said...

Huzzah! I wish for my nieces' and nephews' sake the school library in our town was like yours, but not only does the librarian consider it her personal fiefdom and discourage volunteers (huh?), but the she, with the school's blessing, is busy replacing books with computers (sigh, sob). A friend's son had a birthday where he requested, instead of presents, books to be donated to the school library and my friend reports that, one year later, the books are still in their big cardboard box, "waiting for cataloguing." I'd love to be able to send them to your school :)