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Just One Book: Help Rebuild a School Library Collection

Cassandra Neace

Staff Writer

Cassandra Neace is a high school English teacher in Houston. When she's not in the classroom, she reads books and writes about them. She prides herself on her ability to recommend a book for most any occasion. She can be found on Instagram @read_write_make

Margaret Garcia lives in a small town in Northern California. Really small. Greenville, California, used to be a mining town, but the mines closed. The population dwindled. 200 of the 1200 people who live there are students. For the last 8 years, they haven’t been able to check books out of their library. There hasn’t been a librarian in the last 10 years (volunteers weren’t allowed), and new books haven’t been purchased since the 1990s.

This is the picture that Garcia paints in her June 7 blog post, and it’s a pretty powerful image. The impact is even greater when she describes the existing collection – one that features almost no women writers, that is completely lacking in diversity. She wants to help them change that. Here’s what they need:

We need racially diverse books. We need graphic novels. We need women’s studies. We need science. We need series. We need film. We need comics. We need music. We need biographies of important people. Looking for Young Adult. Classics. We want zines! Contemporary. Poetry. Everything that would make a difference in a young person’s life. Writers send us YOUR BOOK. We have many non-readers who we’d love to turn on to reading. We need a way to take this tiny area and bring it into the 21st century. We have a whole bunch of kids who don’t like to read because all they’ve ever been given is things that are either dull , dated, or dumbed down.

Her mission is a worthwhile one, and she needs help. The new leadership of Greenville Junior/Senior High and Indian Valley Academy, who share the library space, support the revitalization of the library. They are working with Garcia, a parent and a writer, to make the library a welcoming space for students. There are limited resources, however, so Garcia has written this plea. She is asking for just one book from anyone who is willing to donate.

To help make things easy, she has created an Amazon wish list with input from teachers. Many items have already been purchased, and the list is still being updated. Donors shouldn’t feel that they have to stick to the list. Garcia has shared some of her favorite titles from when she was in school, and she encourages others to do the same.

For those that would feel more comfortable shopping from an independent bookstore, Books & Beyond in nearby Chester is offering a 20% discount on books purchased for the Library Project.

Take a look at Garcia’s blog, where the initial post and several updates have been posted. There, you’ll find shipping information and an email to contact her directly with any questions you may have.