AASL Beyond Words and the Dollar General Literacy Foundation award $100,000 in grants to two Houston schools

For Immediate Release
Fri, 06/15/2018


Jennifer Habley

Manager, Web Communications

American Association of School Librarians (AASL)




CHICAGO - Two Houston schools extensively damaged by Hurricane Harvey are the recipients of the 2018 catastrophic disaster relief grants offered as part of the American Association of School Librarians’ (AASL) Beyond Words: The Dollar General School Library Relief Fund. Thompson Intermediate School and Moore Elementary School both suffered devastating losses to the school libraries in the hurricane and its aftermath.

Flood waters entered Thompson Intermediate School late Sat., Aug. 26, 2017, and the school library took in six inches of water damaging books, flooring and furniture. Due to roads blocked by high water, the school building remained inaccessible until Wed., Aug. 30. Thompson’s entire non-fiction collection, located on the bottom shelves, sat submerged in water and all 10,772 books in the school’s collection were exposed to high humidity and mold during this extended period. Out of caution, district leadership declared the entire collection unfit for student-use.

At Moore Elementary School, overflowing water from the nearby creek inundated the campus. The building took in 2.5 feet of flood water, contaminants and sewage destroying the school’s interior and contents. Like at Thompson School, workers were unable to start rescue operations for several days and the delay caused wet items to become waterlogged and items above the waterline to develop an active mold infestation. Along with the 20,000 books in the library’s collection; other media, technology, equipment and fixtures were destroyed or contaminated to the extent of being unsalvageable. The school library was declared a total loss.

“Again last year, catastrophic storms devastated communities in our country,” said Jennisen Lucas, chair of the grant jury. “Families lost their belongings, their homes and their schools. When whole schools are displaced and whole library collections are destroyed, the loss felt can be profound, especially for those students who turn to the library as their safe places. The recipients of this year's catastrophic grants are already working tirelessly to build back up that sense of safety that their libraries provide, and the money from these grants will alleviate some of the stress of starting over.”

Since 2006, the Beyond Words grant program has provided relief to public school libraries nationwide that have suffered materials losses because of a major disaster ranging from hurricanes, tornadoes, flood, earthquakes, fires or an act recognized by the federal government as terrorism. In 2012, Dollar General expanded their support introduced two $50,000 catastrophic disaster relief grants for schools recovering from a 90 percent or greater loss to the school library.

"During times of devastation like Hurricane Harvey, the impact is magnified when students and teachers do not have access to their school libraries," said AASL President Steven Yates. "I remain in awe of the unwavering commitment of the Dollar General Literacy Foundation to provide the critical resources needed to respond in times of disaster. This allows school librarians and their libraries to remain the leaders in literacy and equitable access that our communities need."

Applications are accepted on an ongoing basis at www.ala.org/aasl/disasterrelief and are available to public schools with an already established school library.

The American Association of School Librarians, www.aasl.org, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), empowers leaders to transform teaching and learning.