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Library Update

Well there’s good news and bad news on the library front. I’m not too worried about it and I think we will al persevere just fine.

Indian Valley Academy and Greenville High School and the districts that run them have decided to dissolve their partnership. My editor did a brief editorial on it: Schools head toward divorce.

It seems that the partnership dissolving also means that our beloved Library Project might also face a precarious future.  I have rounded up library volunteers again and can report the following.

Next year Greenville High School–with its less than 70 students will be at the Plumas Unified School District property alone.  The Charter school simply could not afford the rent (which went up to 5 times the amount paid in previous years this wear). Indian Valley Academy will be in two locations: A sixth through eighth grade about a block away from the current location with the high school going to nearby Taylorsville.

Which means my library volunteers and I will be making not one but THREE libraries all connected to each other. Because of duplicate donations this looks very promising. There are some books donated that went specifically with various programs—like GHS ‘s culinary program and IVA’s drama program. Those books will be centered where the programs are both located but with access for any kid in the valley.

Whew. Lots of work cut out for us but we are up for it. Indian Valley Academy has a wonderful new (and much cheaper) space to rent in Taylorsville the cheaper rent means more money for programs! We foresee about 100 students at this location (they also take classes at the local community college).  The IVA junior high likewise has a great room for us to set up in and a good chunk of students as well (Im counting at least 50). We have much material thanks to all of you readers! Enough to go around.

One exciting thing I will post about soon (writing an article for it) is Indian Valley Academy’s sister school Great Lakes High School in Uganda. Nine students from Plumas County just went to Uganda for 3 weeks on a project based learning trip to start three projects that are off to a terrific start. Their library was even worse of than ours was so we’re getting in touch with those in charge of the library there to tell us what they need. Stay tuned.

Thank you so much for all you’ve done for us and please know that we are still in transition, still sending thank you notes, still processing this great generosity.

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Just. One. Book. Live with Students!

So SCHOOL STARTED.

And of course we aren’t quite done with what we set out to do–bureaucracy and the craziness of school starting impeded some progress. Not to mention having to butt heads with less than enthusiastic maintenance dudes and non-visionaries. BUT THIS IS NOT A GRIPE! This is a celebration.

I quietly shelve and organize. We have two students doing a library elective who are doing the same.  I hear amazing things in the library when I go there now. And sad things when you stop to think.

Like a student who said, “Are we allowed to touch them this year?”

and the one who said, “but, I don’t have any money. What’s the cheapest one you have?”

and the one who said, “Wow. It’s the same old room but now it looks amazing.”

That’s what I’m talking about.

img_8779So here’s our front desk at the moment…no designated computer yet but we’re being old school until we can afford what we need.

img_8780Here’s something that’s not happened very often in our school district. A display coinciding with Hispanic Heritage month…..

img_8782We’re waiting on a thorough cleaning here before we put down the nice rug we were given and the bean bag chairs back. This is the junior high lounge.You folks who sent manga and comics—it’s been THE BIGGEST HIT.

I promise photos of students. Each time I go to snap a pic I get a don’t take my photo! Ah…teens.

IMG_7448Take a moment to look at what it looked like before you all decided to help us. Yeah. You guys did an amazing thing. I for one will never forget the generosity of this summer. Nor will these students. I’ve started doing a thing where if I hear students talking in the library I place a book with an interesting premise in front of them and see how long it takes before the book gets picked up. Seconds. It takes seconds.

Since Sept 6 when we opened we’ve checked out about 65 books, dvds, and cds  to students and faculty.  Considering the two schools have only 200 students combined that’s some great reach.

THANK YOU!’

Oh and on a side note. Whoever sent the soundtrack to Hamilton? I LOVE YOU. That’s the first thing that I checked out.

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Just. One. Book. The Night Before a Train

I worked for 10 hours today in the library and I can no longer feel my legs.

It feels like it will be worth it.  Kids were coming in to get their schedules today at Indian Valley Academy. I’ve never seen so many heads pop into the library before. Come in! Come in! This is for you guys.

WHOA!  Even the faces of the haggard 4-H kids who just sold their livestock at auction after a 45 day fair week —kids who looked damn exhausted. As soon as I clean the pens, I swear I’m coming to help. And I don’t feel alone. I have you all and Indian Valley Academy who have been stellar through all of this.

My dealings with the Plumas Unified School District had me going southern Gothic. Let me explain. Some of my all time favorite writers are indeed the southerners. I gravitate toward them when I’m feeling isolated and feel guilty about expecting the worst in people (because thank’s a lot Flannery O’Connor). But in order to not be completely frustrated and pissed off at the gaul of the school district to somehow try and take both ownership and credit for the library I had to go to Carson McCullers and Tennessee Williams. Ever read Reflections in a Golden Eye? The Tennessee preface/introduction? He nails it. He tells us you know what? We artists? We people who feel things? We live on this one plane of existence.  And these officious drones who try and run our lives? They live on this other one.

They have no real jurisdiction over us. We don’t have to answer to them. The only thing I’ll never understand is why so many people who clearly hate children work in the field of education. I just don’t fundamentally get that.

You all sent books to the library project in care of me. And I aim to get books into the hands of children. Whatever that looks like.  Today I set aside 5 books –books that we had in duplicate to give to one particular girl who comes from a family of non-readers. She reads anything she can get her hands on. I gave her my own copy of Michelle Serros’ Chicana Falsa once. Because that girl so needed it.

So it wasn’t a bad day. Tomorrow my son and I take off for a week to see my grandmother and friends and family in Los Angeles via Amtrak. I’ll be interviewing a couple people for my book down there as well. And get this. My short story collection has found a home! Yay! It will be in print finally. So good things. ALL GOOD THINGS.

To the writers who have been sending your books. Thank you in particular for being gutsy and putting yourself and your work out there. It takes a certain tenacity that I greatly admire that I don’t always have. To the agents and the publishers sending books–thank you for the array of work that I wouldn’t have thought of but am glad is here. Great job!

We will make this happen. It may not be the complete original vision but it will be amazing. I’ve already had a glimpse. This is going to be one helluva literate town. THANK YOU.

And here. Enjoy some cookies. I made them tonight when I was supposed to be packing.IMG_8638

 

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Just. One. Book. (Your Questions Answered)

Hi. I don’t know how many writers have been reading this but you know how sometimes you write yourself into a corner on a project and you think I need to get up and move around some and think about what’s going to happen next. Where is this character going? Is she really going to do what I think she’s going to do?

So if you are like me, you get up and fold laundry or take a walk in the campground (I literally live right next to the campground in our town which means when I say I live in a forest, I totally mean I live in a forest).So that’s where I’ve been on my new book project. And while it’s non-fiction this time around there’s many places it could go so I fold laundry, clean out the kids rooms, write an article for the local paper, or speak with you all and add books/films/cds to round out what I hear is coming or that we have at the library. And all and all this system I set up for myself this week was so smooth that I was thinking to myself —look at you managing all this. The house is clean. Articles are written!  New chapter worked on! You even made killer breakfast burritos for the husband.  And then I log into my email and amazon and think OH MY GOODNESS! 200 people emailed me while I slept and the Amazon wish list which I culled from wants and needs of teachers and students and my own idea of what a library should have has gone from 700 items to 5.  Holy shit.

So now I feel inadequate. THANK YOU for making me feel inadequate and humbled by the great power of a collective voice of people who want to see more books in the hands of children and young adults. YOU are seriously rocking our world right now in the most positive way possible.

I realize that this morning before taking my car in for servicing I could 1) try and answer every single email and get a list back up or 2) I could write this blog post and try to include as much as possible to address concerns and questions.

So I’m doing the latter.

  1. We do accept lightly used books. I’m totally down for that and I don’t think any of the students mind.
  2. We do have people on my wee small committee looking into all your great suggestions regarding places that do grants. THANK YOU for the heads up and referrals.
  3. We are accepting classroom sets but are scrambling to figure out what next year looks like at the same time so please, hold that thought!
  4. We aren’t accepting old National Geographics as that’s the one thing we already have plenty of which I think was the last local donation made a few years back along with bodice ripper books. Since the kids didn’t have much in the way that was targeted to their age group, we really want YA fiction and literary classics over adult romance.
  5. YES! I know that the Amazon Wish List is down. You all were so much faster than me. Thank you for your generosity. I will (after work today) add to the list with the teachers lists and recommendations others have been giving me.

If you’ve been on the Amazon Wish List you may have thought my lists were a bit whacky. They –in a large part– reflect what our programs are as well as our interests. In a small town you get to know the kids and their interests. Am I a little concerned about my own son’s fascination with The Walking Dead? Sure but he also love’s the Howard Zinn books so. What’s more I birthed a next generation Nick Cave/Leonard Cohen fan so I’m good.

I thought you might want more details of what we do well. So here it is:

  1. As with many small towns—the schools’ extracurricular programs reflect available resources (people) who teach or volunteer teach/support/coach activities.
  2. Indian Valley Academy is a progressive school that focuses on 21st century skills and channeling student interests and abilities whether they are academically inclined or not.We have kids who have not succeeded in a traditional academic setting but we’ve channeled their interests to make things happen for them. We have kids who were bored in the traditional setting and need a place that doesn’t place boundaries on them. So our dyslexic student who loves to build things gets an opportunity to both catch up on his reading and build his inventions at the same time. Our programs include a chess team, a maker design class, a philanthropy group, a theater program, a wonderfully fun choir named “Puberty’s High Note”, film/video production, and traditional classes.
  3. Greenville High School is a traditional school and also has some programs that are top-notch given our puny size and strength. It has a strong band program with a teacher who has been with us 39 years and a culinary arts program that manages to win competitions through out the state. The schools are integrated for sports and in particular a rodeo program–four students i fact just competed on the state level in rodeo. With the help of the Sierra Institute and Feather River College’s Outdoor Rec Program, our students have been able to go on hiking and water based field trips. In the 6th grade all area tweens go on a series of field trips from the top of the Feather River watershed to where it ends in the San Francisco Bay to give them a better understanding of water and its importance.  Yeah, not the kind of field trips I got growing up in Los Angeles.

What we don’t have as the other posts have indicated–is a strong grounding in the written word.  What we don’t have is a better appreciation of diversity. You are helping to provide that. You are giving these kids access to other worlds outside our great but narrow focus. You are providing your own perspective and in doing so opens up our minds and hearts.

SO THANK YOU FROM A GRATEFUL & OVERWHELMED LIBRARY ORGANIZER. THANK YOU FOR HELPING US OPEN UP THE WORLD FOR OUR KIDS. Stay tuned. There will be an updated list.

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Just. One. Book. Updates and Observations.

Honestly, folks. I do write about other things. I figured if you’re following my posts lately that I should let you know that. Tales of a Sierra Madre is my blog hub with links to all the esoteric creative things I wind up doing in this beautiful but strange place called Plumas County. Since I’m more of a writer than a blogger, things over there tend to go looong. I started Throwing Chanclas to be fun! Short! Photo driven! Light hearted and airy. Or something like that.

Anyhow, I’ve received a few emails on here wanting to know if I am a real person and if this book drive is real, etc. Yes. I am a real person. I write for a newspaper by day. I’m also a fiction writer. And I write and produce a play every once in a while. Also? I love books, I have too many, and I’m constantly giving them away. As I think many of you are too.

IMG_7340So this is me. Margaret Elysia Garcia. When I do modeling or anything of that nature I use Greta Garcia. Because ‘Margaret’ sounds like someone’s aunt in an old folks home. Not the sexiest name. And for the reporting gig and when I have to write something innocuous and boring I go by Maggie Wells whom I assume is my doppleganger sorority pledging, well-married twin with no student loan and a much larger house.

But then there’s you! You’ve been sending books. You are amazing. Sunday was hard. I’m from a very gay family–as in lesbian mothers, lesbian sister in law,  raised by gay men in the 70s, etc. My best friend from junior high was off  at Pride in DC with his new husband and we were doing that FB thang  and then bam. Orlando. And it reminded me of the kid in my daughter’s class who always tries to tease the one lesbian girl in class. And I wonder sometimes is there a way that I can personally offset this madness and hatred? Can I give the bully a book ? Will it open her world? Maybe. Maybe not. But I have to try.

And then it was Monday and  I stopped by the post office to mail a package and the post master lady said can you pull your car around back?

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And then I drove to Greenville High School/Indian Valley Academy and the secretary looked up from her computer and said, “WHAT DID YOU DO?” I walked into the library and saw this:

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So thank you. You restored my faith in humanity. And the cool English teacher and our awesome special Ed teacher and the culinary arts teacher–who is used to getting all book requests denied  all stood there at different times with their jaws dropped.  We are so used to being ignored that it is taking awhile to sink in. I started crying when I opened books. I sniffed in the books. If anyone was watching I’m sure it looked weird. I also cried when I read some of the notes with the books. Full disclosure: my dad and his wife  flew my kids out to Wisconsin to visit him and go kayaking in the North Woods so I’m a little weepy this week anyway. 

But you people are beautiful. Here are three themes going on in the notes.

  1. Retired librarians (and current ones ) get really pissed off at closed libraries. I am picturing some kind of librarian march on Washington where you all just shame Congress for continually gutting arts and education.
  2.  You remember where you came from. So many people are writing “I grew up in a small town and books SAVED me. I can’t imagine not having books. Here’s my favorite.” To this I say I know what you mean. I was a very shy army brat and it always took me six months to say hello to people. Meanwhile I just made friends with books.
  3. You care about the nation’s children and rural America. You send books to open up worlds to them. I opened up a box for LGBTQ teens and cried yet AGAIN. 

So from the bottom of my very real heart. THANK YOU.

Tomorrow is my day in the big city–the neighboring town of Quincy (population 5000) but I’ll be back on Thursday–stopping at the post office and the library. I can only imagine what the table will look like then.

So Thank you! And I’m so sorry if I’m slow in answering email. As all people who live here do, I have like six part time jobs (think Northern Exposure). So I can only get to so many at once. Here’s the current wish list for those asking:

Amazon Wish List.

And to whomever ( I think it was a few people) sent kindles YOU ROCK SO HARD THANK YOU. My husband the IT guy will be setting them up this summer so they’ll be ready to go come fall semester in September!

 

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Just. Two. Bookstores.

So at the request of many a person writing to us (THANK YOU), I set up an Amazon Wish List. But I met today with Dawn Gray at Books & Beyond in Chester, CA. Chester is about 20 -30 minutes away from Greenville, CA just beyond Lake Almanor. It’s the last town before you turn left onto highway 36 and begin the climb to Mt. Lassen Volcanic National Park some 45 minutes away (yes, I know I’m a southern Californian at heart and express every distance in minutes).

Books & Beyond is where I do the bulk of my book buying when I’m in Plumas County.

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Dawn said she was happy to be THE local bookstore for the Library Project. For locals and others wanting to support a local bookstore rather than the Amazon giant, you can call up the store or visit and order books from her. She’s giving a 20% discount on books for the Library Project.

Their information is below. Dawn is pretty hip to the YA scene and can give great recommendations. She often helps me out with such things. (I like to think I help her out with memoir and poetry).

Here’s their website:

Support local independent booksellers!

Thanks, Dawn!