Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Some things to consider when donating books for hurricane-ravaged libraries in Louisiana: Organizers need hardcover fiction and nonfiction books in good condition. They will accept larger format paperbacks, PG-rated movies and educational programs on videocassettes and DVDs and audio books. They will not accept supermarket paperbacks, textbooks, condensed books or magazines. View lists of important titles for libraries at www.yampavalley.info
Rotarians will be collecting books at drop-off locations from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 1. Drop-off points will be at Alpine Bank, Bud Werner Memorial Library, Off the Beaten Path Bookstore and a location in Craig. The pick-up day for collected books at area schools is April 4.
When two hurricanes ravaged the homes of Louisianans last year, they also wiped out the institutions where residents stored their cultural heritage.
Now, Rotary clubs in Steamboat Springs and Craig are determined to rebuild -- from scratch -- the collections of two Louisiana libraries.
"We learned that both libraries in Terrebonne Parish lost all of their books, computers, furniture and supplies during Hurricane Rita," Steamboat Rotary President Chan Coyle said. Working with the Houma, La., Rotary Club, the two Northwest Colorado clubs have resolved to collect at least 25,000 books and $15,000 to put the two libraries -- about 30 miles west of New Orleans -- back in business.
Rotarian Jim Steinberg, chairman of the Books for the Bayou effort, said the logistics of collecting and shipping thousands of books to Louisiana are daunting. Coyle said he wouldn't be surprised if Steinberg and other volunteers find themselves coping with 40,000 volumes instead of 25,000.
"We're going to learn first-hand just what 25,000 books weigh," Steinberg said. "When we finish collecting, we have to sort, box and shrink-wrap them before shipping them more than 1,500 miles."
Chris Painter and the staff at the Bud Werner Memorial Library have agreed to help sort the books.
David Willis, library director at Colorado Mountain College, said building a library collection is something that typically evolves over years as a library staff culls books that are outdated and selects new books to replace them.
"It would be exciting on some levels, but on other levels, devastating" to have to start over with a library collection, Willis said.
Of greatest and immediate concern, he said, might be replacing books detailing local history -- books Steamboat residents aren't likely to provide for Terrebonne Parish.
Painter already has assembled a core book list of titles that every library should have. The library will forgo its spring book sale so that 7,000 books can immediately be given to Books for the Bayou. And the students at Whiteman Primary School have gathered 2,000 volumes.
A librarian from Terrebonne Parish and members of the Houma Rotary Club will arrive in Steamboat on March 31 for the campaign kick-off.
Steinberg is convinced the effort is worthwhile.
"Libraries are such an integral part of the soul of every community," he said. "When you lose a library, you lose a part of the community. We're helping them rebuild their community."