If you've got that givin' feeling and you don't know where to point it without getting into trouble, Pamie (of Pamie) and Glark (of Glark) have teamed up to launch the Dewey Donation System, in support of Mississippi's Harrison County Library System, which was devastated by Hurricane Katrina.
Dewey makes it easy to donate. You can choose to order and send books from individual libraries' wishlists, or you can make a cash donation to a specific library. Cash donations will be used in rebuilding efforts or to fund existing library operations.
Want some inspiration? Go to Dewey's blog to read comments from people who've already donated. At the time of writing this post, 73 lovely souls have already given a grand total of 155 books and $1000. This doesn't include yours truly... yet. I'm off right now to check out the wishlists and make my own contribution. I hope to see you there.
Give books! All the same glowy feel-good potential as giving blood, but with less jabbing!
On the library tip, I've been thinking lately about how much I've always felt instinctively at home in them. When I was seven and my parents split up and we kids moved with our mom away from the family farm, one of the perks of being right in town was that we were just a few blocks away from the tiny public library. I'd never been in a library before, and I was almost overwhelmed by the glamour. So many books! So many kinds! And practically all just for me because, let's face it, this was a semi-rural library in a community that wasn't exactly a hotbed of the arts.
I used to spend hours in there at least once a week and never see a soul other than the librarian, a lovely older woman named Mrs. Campbell. I got to know Mrs. Campbell pretty well. I'd tell her what I thought about the books I'd just read, and she'd tell me about her grandchildren and how she lived with diabetes.
As the years passed, Mrs. Campbell relaxed her five-book limit and let me take out as many books as I liked, and later, when I'd exhausted the children's and young adults' sections, she allowed me to borrow books from the grown-ups' section, with her approval of the specific titles, even though I was technically too young.
The library probably did have other patrons, and I may have even seen some of them, though I don't remember them if I did, but I never lost my decadent feeling that all these books -- and Mrs. Campbell -- had been gathered in this place solely for my delectation. This library is where I discovered everything from The Waterbabies and Peter Pan to the Little House on the Prairie series and Seventeen magazine.
Since then, I've been in much bigger libraries, much better libraries, and much more beautiful libraries, but if you were to ask me what mental picture I come up with when I hear the word "library," I'd tell you that it's a one-room, windowless cinderblock building with flourescent overhead lighting and cheap wooden shelving lining the walls. In other words, the most amazing, magical place of my youth.
So, if and when you're thinking of contributing to the Harrison County Library System, remember the libraries of your childhood and remember everything they gave you and anticipate the innumerable gifts that you, by donating, will be giving to countless kids just like you.