New York Library Association. - The eBulletin

It Takes a Village to Save a Library

By: Marjorie Ingall, The Neighborhood School parent, “Save the Library” Committee

What happens when a not-schmancy public school suddenly learns it has only two months to raise $40,000 or lose its library?

Last April, The Neighborhood School (TNS), a diverse K-5 school in NYC’s East Village, discovered that its library was on the chopping block. Thanks to a perfect storm of budget issues on both the state and federal levels (due to the risk of inducing narcolepsy I won’t detail them here, but feel free to email me), TNS discovered it had to raise an additional $40,000 a year to keep its library and beloved librarian, Cheryl Wolf. The PTA was already scrambling to raise to provide music and art education, technology, supplies, staff development, field-trip subsidies for poor families and more, and there was nothing left to cut; in the last four years the school had already eliminated its math coach, literacy coach, assistant principal and a school aide, and had reduced arts programs and increased class sizes. What to do? Parents needed cash, and fast: By the end of the school year. Or the library was toast.

Fortunately, Cheryl is universally adored. (Check out the lovefest in video at tnsny.org/savethelibrary.) She’s got a knack for finding just the right book for every kid. She brings in popular authors, teaches kids online media literacy, and has amassed the New York City school system's largest cookbook/food collection. Voracious and reluctant readers alike worship her.

So kids held a coin drive, sold string bracelets, offered manicures at a playground beauty salon, and ran a lemonade stand with the help of The Bean, our beloved local coffeehouse. One child donated the money she'd been saving for months for an American Girl doll; another gave up her iPod fund. Parents dug deep to donate. Celeb chef Chris Santos gave a chunk of an evening’s proceeds at LES hotspot Beauty & Essex. The Standard, East Village, a new hotel, wrote a sizeable check. McNally-Jackson Booksellers (http://mcnallyjackson.com/) hosted a benefit with NYT columnist Gail Collins, pioneering feminist Gloria Steinem and Daily Show co-creator Lizz Winstead. Other neighborhood businesses (The Laugh Lounge, The Landmark Sunshine, Cooper’s, Slainte, Dempsey’s Bar, Tia Pol, Neuman's Catering and more) chipped in too.

Thanks to our wonderful East Village community, the Library got a reprieve for two years. Yay! But this is the beginning of a long road. Boo! With funding cut to the bone, we’ve got to raise that additional $40K every year now, on top of the $60K a year we were already on the hook for. This year, we’re organizing an online auction of children’s book art (if you can help or donate, let us know!) Contributions to The Neighborhood School PTA are of course fully tax-deductible. (Sorry, had to get the pitch in there. We love our library!)

Contact Marjorie Ingall at snarly@snarly.com or 917-446-8822