CHICAGO – The W.R. Saffold Community Resource Center in Britton’s Neck, S.C., the Mayaguez Children’s Library in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico and the Lawrence Memorial Library in Windsor, N.C. have been selected to receive books as part of the 2017 Coretta Scott King Book Donation Grant program.
Awarded each spring by the Coretta Scott King Book Awards Committee, the grant program donates books originally submitted for consideration for the Coretta Scott King Book Awards to organizations and schools in need across the country. Three libraries are selected from a field of applicants that demonstrate need and potential benefit from receiving the collection. All winners will receive copies of titles submitted to the 2017 Coretta Scott King Book Awards, including a full set of the year’s winner and honor books.
Housed in a former middle school, the W.R. Saffold Community Resource Center serves the community of Britton’s Neck, a community so impoverished it was featured in the documentary “Corridor of Shame,” a documentary highlighting the major challenges facing rural school districts in South Carolina. The Center provides after school homework help, summer programs, and community functions for all ages. According to the South Carolina State Department of Education, books and materials in the area are 15-18 years old, on average. The nearest public libraries to Britton’s Neck are 16-25 miles away, and a local bookmobile service was temporarily discontinued. Books received through the grant will be readily available to anyone who visits the center, and will provide local youth with counter-narratives of blackness outside the local community, exposing them to information about black life and history often not readily available through standard textbooks and curriculum.
The Mayaguez Children’s Library in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico focuses on meeting the needs of children aged 2-18, as well as adults with many of its efforts dedicated to promoting recreational reading among all members of the community. The library attracts visitors from the city and countryside in Western Puerto Rico. 51.1 percent of Mayaguez’ almost 90,000 residents live below the poverty line, and 30 percent of local residents do not graduate high school. Approximately one quarter of Puerto Rican Hispanics have African ancestry, and will provide the library with titles that it can clearly identify as being relevant to the lives and history of Puerto Ricans with African-American ancestry, as well as promote cultural understanding across the community.
The Lawrence Memorial Library, part of the Albemarle Regional Library System in Windsor, N.C., lost half of its collection of children’s books during Hurricane Matthew in 2016. The library building itself is no longer inhabitable, as library and county officials are working with the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) to locate an alternative site and restore library services. One of the poorest counties in North Carolina, Bertie County serves a large African American population, with 24.8 percent of the population living under the poverty level. The collection will provide children with quality books that reflect the community’s demographics and give a bright spot in the lives of people who sustained losses during the storm.
The Coretta Scott King Book Awards are presented annually by the Coretta Scott King Book Awards Committee of the American Library Association’s Ethnic and Multicultural Information Exchange Round Table (EMIERT) to encourage the artistic expression of the African-American experience through literature and the graphic arts. To learn more about the Coretta Scott King Book Donation Grant, please visit www.ala.org/csk.