2010 Library-Loving Blog Challenge Wrap-up

              

Hooray for you!

With 174 beautiful, heartfelt, impassioned comments, you stated loud and clear just how important libraries are in your lives. You are definitely my kind of people!

I love knowing that many of you consider the library a second home, how it’s the first place you look for when you move to a new town, how you take your children there every week for storytime, how your neighborhood library made you into a lifelong reader when you were little. For people passionate about reading, lifelong learning, communicating, building a strong community and investing in the future, there’s nothing like the public library. 

I said in my 2009 post how I couldn’t have written my third book without the interlibrary loan service at Fairfax County Public Library (FCPL). I taught a woman how to read at the Chantilly branch, met my first writing group and volunteered at Centreville, sat in tiny chairs at the old Fairfax branch reading hundreds of picture books so I could learn how to write one. I’ve been a patron of this library system for over 25 years, and it’s always given me more than I can ever say.

I started this challenge with a cap of $150, but by Thursday raised it to $200. Something wonderful and surprising happened — Fairfax County Library patrons, employees, and volunteers showered me with their own brand of sweet library love.

They expressed their despair over proposed budget cuts: other agencies receiving 3-5% cuts, but the library, 15% (in addition to last year’s 18%)! It comes from a mentality deeming libraries largely recreational, when in fact, they are absolutely essential — serving every social and economic sector, every age group, all ethnicities — supporting not only the educational system (public, private, home school), but employment incentives. Since when is helping people find jobs, improve their English, and expand their horizons "recreational"? This is about quality of life and earning a living!

Sadly, if the proposed budget is approved next month, those who would suffer most are children, the immigrant population, senior citizens and the disabled. We have the largest public library system in the D.C. area, yet the lowest ranking per capita expenditure. Funds are being severely slashed at a time when library use has gone through the roof. 

As I said last year, raising a little money is one thing, but raising awareness is the ultimate goal of this challenge. I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but it’s good to remind ourselves that many people in this country take their public libraries for granted. It was always free, always there, for all their lives. But now, more than ever, our libraries are in danger. The situation is dire. Even if you cannot afford to offer financial support, there are many other ways to love your library (see Jenn Hubbard’s post).

And now, for the fun part. I just placed my order for 22 children’s books on the FCPL Amazon Wish List. I was so happy with my 174 comments, I decided to round off my donation to an even $200. I was especially pleased to be purchasing books by personal idols Cynthia Rylant and Cynthia Kadohata.

Thanks to you, I was able to buy these:

Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus (Barbara Park)

Junie B. Jones and a Little Monkey Business (Park)

Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed (Park)

Junie B. Jones Loves Handsome Warren (Park)

The Mysterious Benedict Society (Trenton Lee Stewart) – 2 copies

The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner’s Dilemma (Stewart)

Henry and Mudge in the Sparkle Days (Cynthia Rylant) – 2 copies

Henry and Mudge: The First Book (Rylant)

The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins) – 3 copies

A Million Shades of Gray (Cynthia Kadohata)

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (J.K. Rowling)

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Rowling) – 2 copies

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Rowling) – 2 copies

Captain Underpants and the Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants (Dav Pilkey)

Captain Underpants and the Preposterous Plight of the Purple Potty People (Pilkey)

The Adventures of Captain Underpants (Pilkey)

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See how much your comments counted? ☺

Thank you so much! Special thanks to those of you who helped spread the word. It made a big difference!

Finally, a super big, dark-chocolate-cupcake-laden thank you to Jennifer R. Hubbard, who started the Library-Loving Blog Challenge last year. We appreciate all the work she did organizing, encouraging, and supporting everyone (we had over 50 bloggers participating this year)! Be sure to check Jenn’s blog for updates on challenges extending into April. Several blogs still need your comments!

No, I haven’t forgotten. Please help yourself to a cupcake, as a small token of my thanks. Are you most like Harry, Ron, Hermione, Voldemort, Dumbledore or Snape?

photo by Kelsie ❤.

If you’re a resident of Fairfax County, Virginia, visit the Fairfax Library Foundation website for the latest information about the FY2011 Budget, and ways you can support the effort to save our libraries, including signing this online petition.

Keep Spreading the Library Love!!

Copyright © 2010 Jama Rattigan of jama rattigan’s alphabet soup. All rights reserved.