February is here now. (Happy St Bridgets Day, by the way.) January flew past (thank goodness). For the next couple of weeks, I will be very busy organising the annual World Book Day Extravaganza that I have been hosting for 10 years now at Dubray Books Galway branch. This is my favourite event(s) of the year, as I do so look forward to seeing all the young faces starting their reading lives. If I am a small part of that, I really feel something important has happened in my life. (Seriously...so joyous and fulfilling.) But more about WBD later.
In the last two weeks, I did something so simple, and yet, I feel so very important.
As you may know, I am a big supporter of school libraries. Well, libraries in general; but school libraries are one of the most important resources in a childs' life. It saddens me that every school does not have a designated library. This is pivotal to their education...and to their lives. When I was a child, and also as a teenager, my favourite place in my school was the library. To me, this was a sanctuary. When I walked through those library doors, it was as if I could hear someone say, "Here's the entire world....what would you like?"....a quiet and safe place to learn and grow and explore, unencumbered by the demands of the rest of the day. Oh, yes...I did cut class sometimes (swot that I was). But you'd find me in the library...
So, in the last two weeks, I did something to delight myself, and two different schools in my local area. Both schools are in the same situation. After many discussions and much locational shifting around in the school buildings, they have gotten the go-ahead to have a school library. The problem being, they have no funds for stocking it with books. In talking to the teachers in question, I had happened to say, "I have books." And we were off.... One local primary school and one local secondary school received boxes full of books. I my work, I receive proof copies (which I hang on to until the book has been published...don't worry, publishers), multiple copies of books, and then there's the books that I can't house (not enough shelves) and books I have inadvertently bought 2 of. I'm sure you bibliophiles out there know the story. So I thought, why not give them to the schools? They have shelf space, but no books. I have books, but not enough shelf space. And children of all ages NEED school libraries.
I think sometimes we take it for granted that there will be school libraries, but with economics and the curriculum and the entire educational process being what it is, this is sadly not the case. We don't realise the absolute urgency of a school library in a childs' life. Here's one thing I think we have to keep in mind.... For some children, a school library is the only place they will ever have exposure and access to books and literacy. It sounds crazy, I know; but it's true. Some children are never taken to a local public library. They are never taken into bookshops. They are not exposed to books in the home. The only place they will have books is the school library. So, with that in mind, I am always delighted to give whatever books I feel I can give to the schools for a library.
What I would like you all to consider is your local school. Do they have a library? Could you afford to donate some of your books to them? Nothing beats the feeling i get when I walk through the schools' doors and hear a child call out; "Oh, wow! It's the book lady!!!"