School, public libraries to build and renew collections with 2012 Coretta Scott King Book Donation Grants

For Immediate Release
Thu, 03/08/2012


John Amundsen

CHICAGO – The Morton School of Excellence in Chicago, the Perris (Calif.) Library and the Prentiss (Miss.) Public Library are recipients of the 2012 Coretta Scott King Book Donation Grants.

Awarded by the Coretta Scott King Book Awards Committee, the grant program provides books submitted for consideration for the Coretta Scott King Book Awards to libraries and other organizations to expand their collections. Each year, three organizations are selected that demonstrate need and potential benefit from receiving the collection. All three libraries will receive 130 titles submitted to this year’s awards, including a full set of the 2012 winning titles.

The Morton School of Excellence, located in the Garfield Park neighborhood of Chicago’s West Side, is a once-struggling K-8 public school whose recent turnaround has earned the attention of local media outlets. Nearly 100 percent of Morton’s students are low-income, and 97 percent are African-American. While the school has made tremendous strides in improving math and science performance, it is currently focused on improving reading levels through its newly refurbished library. “A truly excellent school has an active library that encourages students to become hungry, consistent readers,” said Kristy Reiger, Library/Media Specialist. “I see the CSK books as a way to meet their emotional needs.”

The Perris Library in Riverside County, Calif., serves a diverse community of 69,000 hard hit by the economic crisis. The local unemployment rate in Perris is 20 percent, with 16.4 percent of families living below the poverty line, almost twice the national average. As the economic woes in Perris persist, its citizens are relying on the library more than ever, even as it faces drastic budget cuts that limit its ability to expand collections to reflect the community’s diversity. Perris has long had a large and dynamic African-American community, which the library supports through maintaining a collection of materials by African-American authors. “Budget cuts and attrition have, however, weakened it substantially,” said Thomas Vose, branch manager. “An infusion of new books would spark new interest.”

The Prentiss Public Library serves Prentiss, a small, economically-challenged rural city in Southern Mississippi where 34 percent of residents live below the poverty line. As the economy has worsened, this majority African-American community has been especially hard-hit, with crime on the rise and low employment levels. “Providing its service community with literature to promote literacy is a core responsibility of the library,” said Youth Services Librarian Ryda Worthy. “However, the residents of Prentiss do not merely need quality literature. They need to be inspired and motivated by positive images of fellow African-Americans. Every single child attending public school in Prentiss is eligible for Title I free lunch assistance. We feed their bodies, now we need to feed their spirits.”

The Coretta Scott King Book Awards are presented annually by the Coretta Scott King Book Awards Committee of the ALA’s Ethnic and Multicultural Information Exchange Round Table (EMIERT) to encourage the artistic expression of the African-American experience via literature and the graphic arts.

To learn more about the Coretta Scott King Book Donation Grant, please visit