Quick How-to-Help Info: Several libraries have lost their entire children’s sections due to flooding in Hurricane Irene, and we’re teaming up with independent bookstores to help them rebuild. Want to help? Either send a check to the library OR call the bookstores. They’ll help you choose a book based on the library’s needs and will store it for them until they’re ready, or you can donate to a gift card for the library.To help the West Hartford Public Library in Vermont Send a check to:
West Hartford Public Library P.O. Box 26 West Hartford, VT 05084 OR
Contact local independent bookseller The Norwich Bookstore at 802-649-1114. to purchase books and/or contribute to a library gift card. To help Wells Memorial Library in Upper Jay, NY
Send a check to: Wells Memorial Library P.O. Box 57 Upper Jay, NY 12987 OR
Contact local independent bookseller The Bookstore Plus at 518-523-2950 to purchase books and/or contribute to a library gift card. Authors & Illustrators may also donate signed books & original art for an October fundraiser. Click here for details. Thanks SO much to all who have already donated. The response has been amazing, and the library’s story has spread to NPR’s All Things Considered, GalleyCat, and too many blogs, Facebook pages, & Twitter feeds to count. Truly…thank you.
Now the story that prompted this blog post…
My heart just about broke on an afternoon drive today.
I’d gone with my meteorologist husband to take photographs of flood damage in Essex County, just to our south. Roads were washed out, bridges closed or in pieces, familiar sights to anyone who’s seen news coverage coming out of Vermont this week. But these tiny towns along Adirondack rivers haven’t gotten much media attention.
“Go on up ahead,” one town supervisor told us from his pickup. “You need to see Upper Jay. It’s awful.”
We made our way through roads that were down to one lane, and took detours when there was no road.
“I hope the library fared okay,” I told my husband as we drove. The Wells Memorial Library is small, but it’s charming and has a ton of heart. One of my first-ever author events happened at this library, a cozy, casual reading sponsored by the Adirondack Center for Writing. I remember watching kids coming in to choose books, right before the event started. You can tell when kids feel at home in a place, when they know it’s truly their library, and these kids did.
But as we got closer to the library today, we saw more and more scenes like this.
The AuSable River, so peaceful today, had turned into a raging flood when Irene passed through over the weekend. See the mark in the middle of the zero on this speed limit sign?
That’s how high the water came.
As we drove around a bend in the road today, my husband slowed down. “Whoa…look at all the stuff in front of that house.”
But it wasn’t a house. It was the library.
They lost virtually their entire children’s collection. All of the picture books.
“They were all on the lower shelves,” library director Karen Rappaport explained, “so the kids could reach them.”
She looked at the heap of books in the yard, then out toward the river, quiet in the background today, and shook her head. “We’ve just never seen anything like this.”
She let us walk through the building to see just how devastating the flood waters had been. Old books and documents from the library’s special collections were spread out on tables to dry.
An attempt to save what could be saved…
But so much couldn’t.
At one point during our visit, a small cheer rose up from a corner of the library. Karen had discovered five dry picture books, high on a cart, waiting to be reshelved. “Look!” she showed me. “Paddington.”
This part of the Adirondacks isn’t a wealthy area, and many families are dealing with devastating losses of their own right now. So often, the library is a refuge for families in times like this, so it’s sad to think of this community’s kids not having books to read.
Paddington is a start. And I’m sending a set of all my kids’ books to be part of the library’s new collection.
Would you like to help, too? Here’s how we can rebuild the children’s collection of a small Adirondack library…
Editing to add… I spoke with a member of the library’s board of trustees, and while limited dry storage space is available for new book donations from publishers, they are getting worried about space, so unless you’re a publisher or author, please don’t send additional boxes of books to the library. Instead, consider donating in one of these ways…
1. Send a monetary donation. Checks may be made payable to the Wells Memorial Library and sent here:Wells Memorial Library P.O. Box 57 Upper Jay, NY 12987
2. The Bookstore Plus, a terrific independent bookstore in nearby Lake Placid, NY, has set up two options for folks who want to donate books:
1. Call The Bookstore Plus at (518) 523-2950, and a bookseller will help you choose a book to purchase, based on the library’s needs. They’ll keep track of what’s already been purchased. These books will be collected and stored, and when the library is ready, we’ll deliver them all at once. You can also order online.
2. The bookstore is also setting up a “virtual gift card” for the library. You can call and let them know you’d like to give $20 or any amount. They’ll charge your credit card and add that money to the library’s gift card for the purchase of books later on.
Authors & illustrators: The Bookstore Plus is organizing a fundraiser for October, and they hope to include a silent auction of signed books and original art by children’s book illustrators. If you would like to help by donating a signed book or original artwork, check out this link for more information.
Children’s Book Editors & Publishers: If you’re cleaning out the shelves of new children’s books in your office & would like to send a care package, it would be most welcome. Please send it to the library address above if using USPS, or for UPS, to this address:Wells Memorial Library 12230 State Route 9N
Upper Jay, NY 12987
Thanks in advance to anyone who’s able to help!
One more thing…I suspect that Upper Jay and West Hartford are not the only community libraries that lost much of their children’s collections when Irene came through. If you know of others, and you have specific information from the library about how people can help, please feel free to comment and share that information. I’d be happy to add to this list so that people interested in rebuilding community libraries throughout the flooded areas can learn how to help.
The Schoharie Free Library suffered flooding as well; once plans are underway to replace lost books, I’ll share information about how to help here, too.
Polly-Alida Farrington has shared a blog post with more information on NY libraries that were affected and how you can help.
And finally, thank you SO much for donating and sharing this and spreading the word. Libraries are the hearts of their communities, and these communities really needs their libraries back.