Yesterday was the grand opening of the Tomás de Berlanga Open Air Library! In a few short months, we managed to build a new dedicated space for the student library, secure amazing donations of new and gently used books, cull hundreds of unsuitable books and label and index the remaining 900 books for the student library.
We went from this:
The students were patiently awaiting the new library and getting their hands on the newly donated books. Finally, we were ready to open the English section of the library. (I need to finish sorting and labeling the Spanish books, but they are few in number and in even worse shape than the English ones were.)
I started checking out books right after we opened and had a steady stream of patrons the rest of the day. It was amazing! Students were coming during their recess and, I later realized, slipping out of class to come for a book. There was a lot of borrower’s remorse and requests to change books – I think the kids were so overwhelmed with the great new options that they didn’t know where to start. The cool, donated book marks were a big hit and the kids were amazed to find out they could keep them. We also have a lot of education to do about library procedures: starting with checking out books and not just taking them. As we have no computer for the library, the check out system is old school. It took me several nights to fill out a form for each student – they each have 4 names here and it is not always consistent which ones they use.
The best part of the day was when a few 5th graders came to the library during recess. One boy, Matias, picked The Giving Tree to check out and I told him it was one of my favorite books. Other kids chimed in and Matias started reading it at the checkout table. I asked if he wanted to read it aloud and he happily agreed. The other students gathered around and listened (shushing one boy who started reading his book aloud) and we all enjoyed the first story hour at the open air library.
A big THANK YOU to everyone who helped on this project, including
- Matt for securing the funding to build the library
- Corina Gallardo Nelson for designing the library and securing the contractors
- Donna Daugherty and John Garate for securing the municipal donation of the lava rocks and machinery and man power to spread them
- Paola Leguísamo and Martin Hoss for encouragement and assistance in getting the construction completed
- Jo Browne for help with book labeling
- Jessi Pfeltz for countless hours spent labeling books, making signs, and weeding books
- Lisa Dell for giving up her prep time (and spare time) to index, label and weed books
- Amy and Harry Torres for getting the donation ball rolling with a 500 book donation and Amy’s tireless library advice
- Patty Wanniger, Sarah Wakefield and Maria Schmidt for wonderful library advice and suggestions
WANT TO HELP? WE NEED BOOKS!
- Bring a book (or books!) on your trip to the Galapagos or send some books with someone you know who is traveling here. This is the least expensive way to get books here. Book guidelines are listed below.
- Send books for the school from your home country. For US guests, the United States Postal Service is the most economical way to send books. Contact me for more information and the mailing address. If you are able to collect books for us but do not have the funding to ship them, my brother (in Wisconsin) has generously agreed to accept and coordinate book donations as we seek funding sources for shipping. Please contact me for his information.
- Donate funds to ship books. US donors have collected books for the school, but the school does not have the funds to pay for shipping costs. For example, previous shipments from the United States were sent via USPS and cost $122 for a box of 40 books that weighed about 27 pounds and $80 for a box of 50 books that weighed about 18 pounds. If you want to donate, contact me and I will connect you with someone who has already collected books for us.
- Please collect new or gently used books that are interesting to children. Remember that English is a second language for our students. The school has an Amazon wish list with some suggested titles, but donors can ask a child what his or her favorite books are or talk to teachers, librarians or booksellers for ideas. While some books are great classics, many books that libraries are discarding are being discarded for a reason: they are dated and no one wants to read them. Library book sales, your own shelves and second hand stores are great places to look, but not every book needs a home in the Galapagos. The wish list can be found at: https://amzn.com/w/2OPJUUA6G2N4D
- The school is pre-kindergarten through 12th grade and books at all levels would be appreciated. We currently have a special need for picture books (no board books please as their small size makes them difficult in the library) early readers and books at a 1-5 grade reading level. Multiple copies of books are welcome, as they would allow for a class to use them for a reading circle.
- Books in Spanish are also appreciated. While we want to improve the students’ English proficiency, we also want to encourage a love of reading the their native language.
- Gently used, please! Dust covers are not necessary, but scribbled in, ripped or grimy books are best discarded.
- Coloring books, workbooks and sticker books are best for your local charity for a single recipient to enjoy, not for a school library.
For more information about the school, visit its Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/tdberlanga or its website at http://www.scalesia.org/tomas-de-berlanga-school