For the Love of Libraries

One of my very favorite places in the world is the library. It doesn’t matter which one. They are all works of genius and The Happiest Places on Earth Outside of Disneyland.

I turn into SuperNerd at the library. As soon as I step through the door, I get giddy and my mind starts doing a happy dance. Look at all the things I can read about! Hey, here’s a book about Harry Truman. And here’s one about container gardening! Oooh, maybe I’ll teach myself Italian in 30 Days! Maybe I should read more fantasy! Or historical fiction! Or classics!

I *literally* salivate with excitement at the learning opportunities pouring off those bookshelves.

Havarti always laments Library Day because he knows the truth – I’m going to come home with a back-breaking number of books, of which I will read approximately 25%, temporarily lose 10%, pay late fines for 15% (because I keep renewing and forgetting the due dates), and the rest will be strewn about the house by the kids in various spurts of intermittent, spontaneous reading.

It’s a beautiful thing. And it’s so easy to take for granted as a spoiled American.

Speaking of spoiled Americans, allow me to introduce my friend, Rebecca.

She’s not really a spoiled American. She’s super nifty. And she doesn’t always look like this. But she does kind of look like this in my head, because she’s one of those people brimming with life, and laughter, and fun, and creativity, and pure awesomeness.

This is Rebecca in her normal state with her equally awesome husband, Josh, and their two freakin’ adorable offspring.

Photo credit: Lino Sanchez

Josh and Rebecca are teachers. They like libraries, too. Maybe even more than me.

In fact, they like libraries so much that they’re starting one. Not here. We spoiled Americans blessed-with-abundance Americans have plenty of libraries.

See, part of what makes Josh and Rebecca stellar people is that they had this crazy dream about moving to a developing country and being of service in whatever way they could. Then they actually did it. Two years ago, they went through the same purging process we’re going through, only on a more extreme scale. They ditched everything, packed up their two kids and as many books as they could, and moved to the Dominican Republic. They have a blog. It’s been fascinating to follow their adventures.

And in keeping with their niftiness, they arrived in their new homeland and tried to determine how they could best use their skills and capacities to meet the needs in their neighborhood. And they came up with a brilliant idea for two bilingual teachers who love books – a community library.

Next to food and water, education is the most vital aspect of a community’s ability to sustain itself. And for the kids in Josh and Rebecca’s neighborhood, books are a novelty. If a school there even has a library, it’s a place to store unused textbooks, not a vibrant place for kids to explore the world through reading.

Imagine having no public library, with aisles of fiction and non-fiction and audiobooks and CD’s and DVD’s and reference books (see? I’m starting to drool in my mouth a little bit). What we take for granted isn’t even a blip on the radar in their community.

So Josh and Rebecca have plunged into this project wholeheartedly, dedicating full-time volunteer hours to making a community library a reality. You can see more on their Facebook page. And their videographer friend helped them make a video about what they’re doing and why. Check it:

Are you excited? I’m excited! Seriously. I want everybody to have the opportunity to nerd out when they walk into a room full of books. Especially children and youth who don’t have the opportunity to travel or see the world in any other way than through books.

At this point, I can imagine Josh and Rebecca holding their hands to their foreheads, saying, “Annie . . . Oy . . . why are you making this so much about US, for crying out loud? It’s the LIBRARY that we want people to know about, not US!” (That’s just the sort of humble, dedicated souls they are.)

The reason I am making this so much about them isn’t out of flattery or slightly creepy, stalker-like admiration. It’s because I know that when I send my charitable contributions somewhere, I want to know where that money is going. I want to know that it’s going directly to the folks that need it, and not some nebulous, not-for-profit administrative machine. (Not that the money goes straight to Josh and Rebecca – their project is being overseen financially by Learn Across Borders.) But I enjoy supporting people who are truly dedicated to service, who put their hearts and souls into their projects, who are good and wise and creative and brimming with awesomeness, and whose projects really need the money.

That’s Josh and Rebecca and the Biblioteca Comunitaria Dr. William House. They are an inspiration. They make me want to give. And we all know giving feels good, especially to help kids get even a fraction of what we have in excess here.

Let’s face it. Most of us first world folks have more books than we know what to do with. Our kids’ bookshelves are overflowing with them. We keep buying more and more bookshelves to house them all.

I know that as we’re purging our belongings, I’m torn about which books to keep and which to give away. Thinking about the kids in Josh and Rebecca’s community has helped me a lot. I just keep asking myself, “Could kids in the Dominican Republic use this book more than my kids could?” Most of the time, the answer is “Yes. Duh.” Even after purging half of our books, my kids still have plenty to read.

And even if they don’t, they can always go to the library.

Hopefully, those kids in the DR will be able to do that soon, too.

So, in honor of March Reading Month, I’m doing something I’ve only done once before on my blog. I’m asking for you to embrace the opportunity to contribute to this project if you feel even the least bit compelled. Every teeny little dollar helps. (There’s even an option to give a dollar. Just one!)

Maybe forgo eating out once this month and donate the money for some sweet little Dominican kids to get some books. Maybe involve your own kids. Show them the site and ask them what they would do if they had no access to libraries. Such a great opportunity to directly make a real difference in kids’ lives.

In case you missed all those links, here’s a direct link to the fundraising site:

If you can’t give money, please pass along this post or the project website. They only have a couple of weeks left to reach their goal through Indie Go Go. (The fundraising website takes 4% if they reach their goal, and 9% if they don’t!)

If you want to donate books directly, shoot me an e-mail ( and I’ll get you the address.

For the love of libraries, let’s help our friends get the word out and put some books in these kids’ hands.

P.S. If you didn’t watch the video, you should know that not only is the community library a place for books, it’s also a place for teacher support and training. Double whammy. Feed some kids’ minds, train some teachers. Boom.

Now go share some love. 🙂

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Annie writes about life, motherhood, world issues, beautiful places, and anything else that tickles her brain. On good days, she enjoys juggling life with her husband and homeschooling her children. On bad days, she binges on chocolate chips and dreams of traveling the world alone.

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