06 January 2008

Another Idea for Donating Books

I've become very impulsive about making donations and responding to requests. When Oh, The Joys posted last month about sending books to a school library in New Orleans, I was on it in a flash. And an oddly similar request came to me the other day, when I got an email from a friend, forwarding on an email from a friend of his, soliciting books for a Navajo library. I promptly bundled up a handful of kid's books - all new but duplicates of ones we already had - and will mail the package tomorrow. And I asked Mark to ask his friend if I could publish her letter. She agreed, so it's below. Can you help too?

This fall, I found out that the Navajo Nation Library System was able to get space and staff for a new branch in Kayenta, Arizona. Back in 1980, I worked as librarian for the Navajo Nation for three years, and we had a small library in Window Rock, and a smaller branch in Navajo, New Mexico. It was always a dream to add on more branches, but money for libraries is hard to get on the reservation. The Bureau of Indian Affairs didn’t consider public libraries to be within its domain, so it would not fund the libraries, leaving it up to the tribe to find the money. And money was always scarce.

We held fundraisers as much as we could, selling mutton stew and fry bread at events, and holding Christmas craft shows. We had a friends group that helped out, and people were generous with book donations. And that helped us get more books into people’s hands and hearts. We also faced three disastrous floods during my years there, and many more building-related catastrophes after my term. When I left to take another job, Irving Nelson became director, and under his 25 years of management, the library finally got a nice building, space, staff, and is now providing a wealth of services, including summer reading programs, special collections of Navajo history you cannot find anywhere else, and computer access to the Internet.

Irving and I have kept in touch, and I was happy to hear he was finally able to get space donated to open a new branch in Kayenta. He’s been scrambling to get furniture and staffing, and of course, books.

Here’s a photo of Irving getting ready to unload the furniture that was donated by ANEW. And here’s one of Trina, the new staff person for Kayenta, and Irving, taking a break.

When I asked how I could help, he said that getting a good collection of children’s books was the most important thing on his list, since he didn’t get additional funding to buy more books for this new branch.

So here’s your chance to help. It’s easy. Go down to your local book store, and find a kid’s book – a colorful picture book, an easy reader, maybe a kid’s science book or natural history or historical book. Something new and colorful – think “what would be really attractive to kids, what would they like to read, what would keep them coming back to the library?” Buy it, wrap it in a box for mailing, and mail it to:

Mr. Irving Nelson, Program Supervisor
Office of Navajo Nation Library
P.O. Box 9040
Window Rock, Arizona 86515

Or if you need a physical address (like for UPS):

Mr. Irving Nelson, Program Supervisor
Office of Navajo Nation Library
Az Highway 264
Post Office Loop Road
Window Rock, Arizona 86515

Include a note, seal it up, and pat yourself on the back. The kids will appreciate it. I have sugarplum visions of Irving needing a pickup truck to bring back the boxes from the post office.

Thanks for reading this, and thank you even more if you decide to play along with me on this.

You can find out more about the library and its services here, and if you want to get in touch with Irving
Nelson directly, he’s at irvingnelson@navajo.org. If you would like to send a check, please make it out to the Friends of the Navajo Nation Library.

I've started a wish list at Amazon.com of great books to buy. Go here for book ideas!

(One last word -- Please DON'T send Irving and his staff your old books, your great collections of National Geographics, or those computer manuals on your desk. Trust me when I tell you that they had at least three sets of National Geographic when I left, and I can just imagine how many there are now. We are looking to build a fresh exciting collection, one that tempts kids to come in and stay. Thanks!)


Girlplustwo said...

of course i'll do it. i assume i can just send it directly through amazon, and of course.

Girlplustwo said...

in fact, see, i just went and did it. you made it very easy, those amazon wish lists are the bomb. every child should have new books to read. good for you for doing this.

flutter said...

yep, I used to live in Flagstaff. Kayenta reservation is very much in need.

Thank you for this, I am on my way over to do this, too

Her Grace said...

This is awesome. I'm going to pass it on to my mom, who works with First Nation kids from all tribes in her school program. Maybe they can make a project out of it.

In the meantime, just so readers know, you can donate often donate those old books (and old National Geographics!!) to your local library. In our town, if the library can't use them, they donate them to a non-profit group who holds a huge book sale, then donates the funds back to the library for programs for children and seniors.

Gina said...

I'm in. I probably won't get a chance to do it until next weekend, but I will do it.

OhTheJoys said...

I owe you one, so I'm on it, friend.


Mayberry said...

What a great cause! Thanks for the tip-off.

Anonymous said...

Loved this post. Both our sons have sent books to Israel for an English center so kids could learn enough English to be able to apply to go to college. This books HAD to be used or customs would have a huge tariff on them.
We got pictures back of the kids with the books. They are very poor and without education, little hope of college or scholarship.
Unfortunately, there is currently a strike of elementary teachers in Israel right now so most of the kids will miss most of this year. Being more "socialist" there is little that can/will be done to get them back to work and the kids suffer. Oh well.
It is always a shame when politics kill education.