Thursday, October 4, 2012

Budget Cuts in DC Schools Mean We Step Up to Help Ballou SR High

Updated 10/7: Thanks for buying over 100 books already! Please continue to help us sell as many of our list of 450 books as possible - spread the word and let fellow booklovers know about Ballou!

Students in the library with books bought this spring by Guys Lit Wire readers

We here at Guys Lit Wire keep our fingers pretty close to the pulse of the DC school system as the Ballou Sr High School library is near and dear to our hearts. After three previous online book fairs to help stock the shelves, we were already planning to return to Ballou but the news that libraries in particular were facing major cost cutting measures in the city has just strengthened our commitment. When we began with Ballou in 2011 there were just over 1,500 books in the library, or 1.25 for each of the nearly 1,200 students. Now, they have 5,484 which means we are about a third of the way to our goal of meeting the ALA standard of eleven books for each student. The three book fairs for Ballou to date have resulted in over 1,000 books bought from Powells Books and many others donated directly to the school through the publicity we have helped generate. Now, we are back to Ballou for another round of gift giving from a list of 450+ great new books that has us all really excited.

This Fall Book Fair for Ballou has been EXTENDED through Wednesday, October 17th!!

For those who have participated with our book fairs in the past, this explanation will be familiar: there is a wish list at Powells Books for the school that was created with input and final approval of Melissa Jackson, the Ballou librarian. (If you want to embed it in your own posts about the book fair, here's the link: The list includes novels and poetry as well as nonfiction titles on colleges, travel, finance, nature, art and more. There is also a healthy selection of manga and graphic novels.

It is perfectly fine to purchase used copies of a book (more bang for your buck) but please 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. Also, be on the look out for "sale" prices of new books which are really a fantastic deal. (And of course if you can buy new, we really hope you will!)

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:

Melissa Jackson, LIBRARIAN
Ballou Senior High School
3401 Fourth Street SE
Washington DC 20032
(202) 645-3400

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. And please know we appreciate you jumping through a few extra hoops for the wish list at Powells - this is a chance for us to support an important bricks and mortar independent bookstore and while it takes a little extra effort, we really think it's worth it.

Finally, here's a look inside Ballou, from students speaking about the Jobs for American Grads program. It gives you a good idea of just how much these kids are up against and how incredibly motivated they are to improve their lives.

If we're going to make an effort to change the lives of anyone, it should be the kids at Ballou Sr High School - helping them in fact should be the easiest decision in the world for any of us to make.

How often do you tell yourself you'd make a difference if only you knew how? Well, here is your easy, inexpensive, nonpartisan, apolitical (yea!) chance to make the best possible sort of difference, and one all of us as booklovers can certainly identify with.

So, please, go to the wish list, buy a book and make one school at our nation's capitol a better place. Thanks so much for your efforts and if you can, spread the word on the book fair as far and wide as possible. Follow @BallouLibrary on twitter where Melissa will thank folks as the books arrive and for more pics of the library check out their facebook page. Before you go, here are some great examples of the students enjoying the Ballou Library:

The Ballou Scrabble Team!

Celebrating African American authors!

Poetry Club at the DC Youth Poet Slam!

Chess Team!


Becker said...

Just sent off The Good Good Pig, The Urban Birder, and Solitaire (one of my favorite books!). Thanks for continuing to help Ballou get books into students' hands!

Colleen said...

Thanks Becker - I loved Solitaire!

Jennifer R. Hubbard said...

Book shopping is always so much fun! Sent off Miss Peregrine, a travel book, and a chef book. That ought to be a nice mix.

Colleen said...

Thanks so much Jen! (LOVED Miss Peregrine!!!)

Anonymous said...

Always enjoy this book fair. Sent off Among Others (wonderful book), Girls Get Curves (because I believe in encouraging girls in math and science), Wildlife Heroes (because it looked good and there was a sale copy), and Outcasts United (because it looked fun)

Colleen said...

Thanks so much "otterb"! I also loved AMONG OTHERS - it's amazing. Also, I didn't realize WILDLIFE HEROES was on sale - just ordered it for my son for Xmas! ha!