Donations to Ferguson public library rocket up as...
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Nov 26, 2014  |  Vote 0    0

Donations to Ferguson public library rocket up as streets erupt

Tiny downtown Ferguson library stays open during rioting – and receives thousands of online donations

OurWindsor.Ca

Online donations to the downtown Ferguson, Mo., public library have increased dramatically as protesters, looters and police clash in the streets around it.

“Within 20 hours, there were 3,000 donations,” Becky Chisholm, an administrative assistant at the library, said in a telephone interview on Wednesday.

The tiny library, which has one full-time librarian, is just two blocks from the town’s police station, where protesters have vented their anger over the past two days.

Demonstrators smashed windows on a historic train caboose next door and a bank across the street, but spared the library, after a grand jury voted not to indict Officer Darren Wilson for killing unarmed black teenager Michael Brown.

The library was kept open for 35 children from kindergarten age to high schoolers on Tuesday while area schools were closed.

Online donations started to heat up on Monday, even before the grand jury’s decision, after the library announced it would be staying open for children on Tuesday.

Many of those donations came from outside the community, including one from Celeste Ng, the Cambridge, Mass., author of the bestselling novel Everything I Never Told You.

“I just donated to @fergusonlibrary (open today, schools are closed). Make one good thing happen today,” Ng tweeted

Some of them were mistakenly sent to the Ferguson, Conn., library, which returned them and prompted posted a link to the Ferguson, Mo., library, Chisholm said.

Along with donations came positive tweets and emails to the library’s website and Facebook page.

“You are a beautiful example of how libraries are at the forefront of any community,” Gina Sousa, a worker at the Palm Beach Community Library System in Florida posted on Facebook Tuesday afternoon.

“Above and beyond service,” posted Becky “Rasmussen” Cook of Hastings, Neb. “Thank you for being a role model to communities everywhere and for actively helping your community begin to heal by providing a safe haven and resource for children and adults. It is really very heroic.”

The only full-time worker at the library is Scott Bonner, who started just five weeks before the violence began in the summer. Bonner was not available for comment on Wednesday.

“He had a little bit of a baptism by fire,” Chisholm said, noting Bonner stayed at the library to protect it until 10:15 p.m. Monday.

The library was also kept open in August when protests forced schools and businesses to close.

It soon developed a wide fan base, and a technician from California set up a “donate” button on its website.

Everyone walking inside passes a sign that reads, “Stay Strong Ferguson. We are Family.”

“It’s not just a book warehouse,” Chisholm said. “He has a vision that we’re going to be a community thing.”

Library staff haven’t yet announced how much money has been donated, but Chisholm hopes it’s enough to hire a full-time children’s librarian.

“We need a children’s librarian,” she said. “That’s our dream.”

Chisholm said she hasn’t had enough time yet to read all of the positive tweets and Facebook postings, which include one from Catrina Davis of Oshawa.

“Thank you for what you are doing for your community,” Davis posted on Tuesday afternoon. “You provide a beacon of hope and safety in a situation that is so heartbreakingly — and dangerously — divided.”

“That’s my library!” posted Das Christophe on Tuesday afternoon. “Good to see the flip side of recent events in Ferguson.”

Several of the positive comments have come from proud members of the librarian community in general.

“Stay safe,” a representative of the Florence-Lauderdale Public Library posted on Tuesday afternoon. “We’re thinking of all of you, and we’re extremely proud of the job you’re doing.”

Toronto Star

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