Just. One. Book. Update

By JJ: The Just. One. Book. appeal for book donations to a community high school library in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains is producing incredible results (item #9, Pixel Scroll, June 13).

I grew up a very bright misfit in a town of 2000 people, and I am probably only alive today because I had access to books when I was in grade school and high school, and a way to escape the utter misery of my life. Even though I am neither, I sent half a dozen books featuring stories about POC and LBGTQ, because that seems to be what they really need (a large percentage of their population is Hispanic/Chicano/Latino). I can imagine what a huge difference this will make in the lives of many of these young people.

On the Throwing Chanclas blog, Margaret Elysia Garcia described the response:

And then it was Monday and  I stopped by the post office to mail a package and the post master lady said can you pull your car around back?

suv with books

And then I drove to Greenville High School/Indian Valley Academy and the secretary looked up from her computer and said, “WHAT DID YOU DO?” I walked into the library and saw this:

class full of books

So thank you. You restored my faith in humanity. And the cool English teacher and our awesome special Ed teacher and the culinary arts teacher–who is used to getting all book requests denied  all stood there at different times with their jaws dropped.  We are so used to being ignored that it is taking awhile to sink in. I started crying when I opened books. I sniffed in the books. If anyone was watching I’m sure it looked weird. I also cried when I read some of the notes with the books. Full disclosure: my dad and his wife  flew my kids out to Wisconsin to visit him and go kayaking in the North Woods so I’m a little weepy this week anyway. 

But you people are beautiful. Here are three themes going on in the notes.

  1. Retired librarians (and current ones ) get really pissed off at closed libraries. I am picturing some kind of librarian march on Washington where you all just shame Congress for continually gutting arts and education.
  2.  You remember where you came from. So many people are writing “I grew up in a small town and books SAVED me. I can’t imagine not having books. Here’s my favorite.” To this I say I know what you mean. I was a very shy army brat and it always took me six months to say hello to people. Meanwhile I just made friends with books.
  3. You care about the nation’s children and rural America. You send books to open up worlds to them. I opened up a box for LGBTQ teens and cried yet AGAIN. 

So from the bottom of my very real heart. THANK YOU.

Tomorrow is my day in the big city–the neighboring town of Quincy (population 5000) but I’ll be back on Thursday–stopping at the post office and the library. I can only imagine what the table will look like then.

So Thank you! And I’m so sorry if I’m slow in answering email. As all people who live here do, I have like six part time jobs (think Northern Exposure). So I can only get to so many at once.

Then, a few days later:

Yesterday we had six volunteers come in to start opening boxes and recording what we’ve received and from whom if possible (some of you are anonymous). We emptied out more current events from the 1950s–60s. We’ve also had a great time getting to know the neighbors better. The mountains are like that. People who live here are often on their own path up here and you don’t see them. But right now? It’s all in. Everyone is astounded. It’s bringing people together. THANK YOU.

And last Sunday an update titled “Just. One. Nation”:

As of right now–we’ve logged in 4000 books. We have enough to start our library anew. Our Amazon wish list has been depleted and we are going to put in a chunk of time next week with 10 volunteers to unload boxes, catalog, see what more we need, etc. I won’t be putting up a new Amazon list right now.

They need shelving units (and probably monetary donations toward a computerized cataloging system). They are giving duplicates to the libraries of other nearby small schools.

16 thoughts on “Just. One. Book. Update

  1. A later photo.

    Compare the library photos above with this “after” photo.

    It gives me so much joy to see this — and this is only a portion of what they’ve received.

    Whenever someone badmouths the Internet, I point them to things like this.

    Truly, together, we are mighty.

  2. Also note some of the authors: Pratchett! Gaiman! McCaffrey! Scalzi! Westerfeld! LeGuin!

  3. I’ve been following her blog. They have gotten so many books that she is now giving them to other high schools in the area.

  4. JJ:

    It truly wasn’t very fair of you to do this. I’d finally decided that humanity can go suck rocks and that we should exit, stage left, pursued by a dozen bears. Then you show me this.

    Did you really need to restore a little of my faith in humanity? 😉

  5. Always wonderful to see when people come together. Thanks JJ for the update. Wish there were a nationwide and worldwide Internet place to go and see places in need.

  6. It’s good news, but it’s still not a Nevada library. Heck, you can see the “California Distinguished School” banner in the background of one of the photos. The town is in the Sierra Nevada mountains, but it’s actually in California, not Nevada.

  7. Kevin: Full credit for trying to help me get the right state…. I’ve fixed it in this post.

  8. Tasha Turner: Wish there were a nationwide and worldwide Internet place to go and see places in need.

    Well, since you mentioned it…

    One of the commenters on Greta’s blog linked to this:

    DonorsChoose.org. Support a classroom. Build a future. Teachers all over the U.S. need your help to bring their classroom dreams to life. Choose a project that inspires you and give any amount.

    search by science fiction

    You can also search for projects in the highest poverty areas, nearest to being completed, closest to the deadline date, a specific age/grade range, or projects in or near your current location or your hometown.

  9. I have a very dear friend in Taylorsville and we always stopped in Greeenville (at a record store, I think) on our way to Chester and Quincy. I have a box that is filling up. Keep updating us!

  10. Recent updates by Greta Garcia:

    Just. One. Big Thank you!

    In general, our whole county is underserved. The art teacher for Plumas Unified School District was just let go. No more art in school. Chester lost its band teacher. Only if you live in Quincy are you lucky enough to have dance. The arts in schools are woefully under represented. Another place we fall short is technology. I think I mentioned before we often graduate students who don’t know how to send an email and don’t know there’s something else you can do on a phone besides text and play games. Reading levels across the district need to expand. Just from talking to other teachers across the district I can tell that much of their material is outdated and lots of their requests the district cannot fill due to budget restraints.

    So with this in mind – we are distributing books to schools in need in our district that have open libraries but those libraries do not have enough newer books and media (Portola High School, Plumas Charter School in Quincy, Loyalton High School).

    One teacher at Quincy High School has been trying to get diverse books in her classroom for two years. She’s coming over next Wednesday to check out the duplicates we have that I think are on her lists.

    Just. One. Friday with the Family

    We had the most volunteers ever this morning and we worked a solid four hours before the heat got the better of us…

    As I’m planning and sorting I realize we DO need bookcases and there are a few books I’m hearing about that I would like to see in the library. So I updated the Amazon Wish List.

    (includes some awesome photos of multitudes of books, double-rowed on shelves)

    Just. One. Book. Thoughts and thanks.

    This is the very sweet Natasha Griffin. She came out to Greenville from Portola to pick up some books for Portola High School. Many of our duplicates went home with her. Portola is the only incorporated city in our county and is home to a more diverse (in terms of Latinx) population of students. I hand picked some books that my daughter and I thought the kids would love over there from our overflow…

    …you know what you guys did? You’ve sent me every book that was on the challenged or banned book lists of the last few years. We have every book that’s been challenged some place in the USA. I LOVE THAT.

  11. JJ, thanks so much for the update. After the horrific events of this last week, I really needed some good news….

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