2004 Barbara Kingsolver Award Winner
Friends of the Effingham (NH) Library
In this New Hampshire town, a tiny band of volunteers spent countless hours during 2003 and 2004 raising funds, bit by bit, in several innovative ways, to help increase the Effingham Public Library’s hours, staff, circulation, and community profile. Prior to 2002, the library was open only four hours a week and had no catalog system or full-time librarian. Doors are now open 22 hours a week, an automated library system is being implemented and a full-time library director as well as a children’s program director manage the system.
"Thanks to the generosity of HarperCollins, Kingsolver and Friends of Libraries U.S.A., Friends of Effingham Library will now be a step closer to the goal of “increasing our children’s and young adult holdings, activities and patronage,” said Kathryn Cauble, president of the volunteer organization.
Martin Covert, FOLUSA Board member and lead judge of the 2005 Kingsolver Award, shared a moving and inspirational account of the Friends of Effingham Public Library’s efforts during the Boston Tea Party event. The crowd of nearly 200 people responded with a standing ovation as representatives of the Friends accepted the award and $10,000 check. Here are Martin Covert's remarks:
It's possible that those of us who live in big cities and volunteer as Friends of our Libraries have become jaded.
Perhaps that's why this year's winner of the HarperCollins Kingsolver Award is Friends of the Effingham, New Hampshire Library. They are the antithesis of jaded.
This is a band of very few volunteers who have taken it upon themselves to support and expand a one-room library in a town of 1,000 people where 20 percent of the adult population has nor attended high school.
The illiteracy rate is high in Effingham. Many of the children are home-schooled.
These Friends spent 2004 raising money and awareness of the need for a separate children's room in a newly expanded space.
A year ago, their town library was open two hours a week. Now it's open 22.
Where no librarian was previously employed, Friends of Effingham hired one, and also a children's program coordinator.
They've ripped up carpet and painted walls, built shelves and created events that appealed to the young epople in their community.
Kids came to a Celebrate Effingham Day where they were invited to paint chairs -- the chairs they now use in the new children's room.
The group organized a Tour of Effingham Landmarks, with proceeds going to library improvements.
They implemented a summer reading program with the theme of "Recognizing Heroes." Families came to the expanded library to recognize people who had helped bring a newfound appreciation of the library and of reading.
Big city folk are jaded and argue that the new Starbucks is too close to their Main Branch, or that Barnes & Noble won't help them fund a new boutique in a suburban branch.
But Effingham worries about having enough room to hold enough books.
In their entry, they submitted a photo of a young girl at a summer reading celebration at the library. She's feeding a goat with a baby bottle, and is visibly amazed at how much appreciation the little goat is showing. METAPHOR!
We were amazed at how much appreciation the people from Effingham deserve for making sure that sense of wonder pervades their new two-room library, for showing how nourishment and amazement can come from both sides of the library bookshelves.
Because of that, and all their hard work, time and dedication, they now have an extra $10,000 in award money to increase the collection.
Remarks by Martin Covert, FOLUSA Board Member and judge of the 2004 FOLUSA/HarperCollins Award in honor of Barbara Kingsolver.