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Sep 06 2011

The Flooded Libraries

Some questions have been raised in comments about the truth of the story behind my last post. I don’t have enough information to answer those either way. This story, however, has been verified, and it’s the more important one anyway. Hurricane Irene threatened a lot of libraries. Most of them withstood the rains just fine, but a couple are in very bad shape.

The only definite bad news, beyond reports of wet carpeting and some water in basements, was from the West Hartford Public Library, which had significant damage, Reid said.

“It’s a small library, and they have a children’s department in the cellar that was completely under water, and the adult collection on the main level was under six inches of water and mud,” Reid said.

Aileen Gillett, the director in West Hartford, reported that there was four inches of mud in the children’s room and that 60 percent of the library’s collection (9500 volumes) was unsalvageable. The library also had no phone service or Internet access.

Galleycat has information on how you can help:

Send donations to:

West Hartford Public Library
P.O. Box 26
West Hartford, VT 05084

One of my favorite authors and favorite people, Jane Yolen, posted this to Facebook, where additional information has been collected. The library has been contacted, and they are not remotely ready for replacement books to be donated directly. The address above can accept checks at the moment. Local independent bookseller Norwich Books is taking online donations through their gift card program. Direct book donations should be coordinated through Reader to Reader, a nonprofit dedicated to literacy through book and computer donations.

Wells Memorial Library in New York also lost all the books on their lower shelves, most of which were picture books placed where children could reach them easily. Children’s author Kate Messner has the details (with pictures) on the damage:

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.

And information on how to help:

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.

What starts a kid on the path to lifelong discovery better than discovering wisdom and wonder while browsing the books of children’s libraries. Let’s make sure the kids in these areas get that opportunity.