Longtime readers will know that this time of year we here at GLW get to thinking about how we can help school libraries across the country build up their shelves. Last year we watched the video from Melissa Jackson, librarian at Ballou Sr High School in Washington DC and we knew we had to help. Between our spring book fair and a small holiday fair last November we have helped Ballou move from a library that had less than one book for each of its 1,200 students at the beginning of 2011 to a ratio now of two books per student. While this is an impressive achievement and something we are quite proud of, the American Library Association advocates ELEVEN books for each student. It's obvious that Ballou is still operating at a serious literary deficit and because of that we have decided to commit ourselves to the long haul and stay with this school library until they have everything they need.
A few things have changed at Ballou since the video was made last year. Not only did some much needed books come their way but the bankruptcy of Borders allowed the school to purchase some shelves and other fixtures to dress up their library space. (Those category signs in the above picture probably look really familiar to former Borders customers.) While the area looks fantastic, and the space is being used for an anime club and chess club and scrabble team and many other wonderful groups, the shelves are still way too empty. What we hope to do this spring is give Melissa some breathing room and allow her to use her very limited funds for more expensive reference materials while we pick up the slack and buy the popular titles. In that vein you will see that our Powells Wish List for Ballou (Here's the link if you want to embed it in a post: http://bit.ly/GLWBookFair) has a lot of manga, urban fiction, poetry, paranormal titles and a boatload of big sellers. (John Green, Holly Black, Cassandra Clare, Kristin Cashore and Paolo Bacigalupi are all front and center.) As a big fan of nonfiction I'm delighted to see books like Eating Mud Crabs in Kandahar, Engineers (from DK Press) and Generation V: The Complete Guide to Going, Being and Staying Vegan as a Teenager on the list and there is also a healthy collection of adult crossover titles like The Book of Jonas, Clementine (Cherie Priest) and The Intuitionist (by Colson Whitehead). There is also a lot of urban fiction, as requested by the students, and since Melissa is working with a reading population that varies in literacy levels from 5th grade to college prep, we have liberally mined the resources of Saddleback publishing to discover books with older teen appeal but manageable reading levels.
As we have done in the past, Melissa vets the list from top to bottom and everything - every single book - is one that her students want and need. Powells is hosting it as part of our ongoing effort to support independent bookstores and everyone is welcome to spread the word as far and wide as possible.
We want to sellout guys, and we can't do it without a lot of help.
You can check out the list, make your selections for the school and please know while we prefer new it is perfectly fine to purchase used copies of a book (more bang for your buck). But check and make sure the book is in “standard” used condition and not “student owned” (you will have to click on the title and leave the wish list to check this). The “student owned” copies are very cheap for a reason - they are written in and thus not a good choice for this effort.
Once you have made your selections head to “checkout” and you will be prompted to inform Powells if the books were indeed bought from the wishlist. This lets the store know to mark them as “purchased” on the list. After that you need to provide your credit card info and also fill in the shipping address. Here is where the books are going to:
Melissa Jackson, LIBRARIAN
Ballou Senior High School
3401 Fourth Street SE
Washington DC 20032
It’s very important that you get Melissa’s name and title in there - she is not the only Jackson (or Melissa) at the school and we want to make sure the books get to the library.
After that you buy the books and you’re done! Please head back over here when you get a chance though and leave a comment letting us know who you are, where you’re from and what you bought. Also be sure to follow @BallouLibrary on twitter where Melissa will be updating on books as they arrive and student reactions. You can also let her know what you have ordered - I'm sure she will be delighted to let the kids know what's coming their way.
As always, we here at GLW thank you from the bottom of our hearts for helping us in this effort. The book fair is one of the best examples of what we all believe in - getting as many books as possible into the hands of kids who need them. Please understand that for all of us and Melissa, this is not just about buying books but showing the students at Ballou that they matter and that to a lot of us out here in the world, far from Washington DC, they are very important indeed.
Buy a book, send a tweet, post on your blog or at facebook. Comment here and tell us what you've sent and where you are so we can celebrate the moment with you. Change the world today and over the next two weeks because you can. And don't forget how much we appreciate you for helping us make the book fair so successful.
back to main page