Donations to Ferguson Municipal Public Library now top $350,000, and gifts of books will keep the library cataloger busy for some time, library director Scott Bonner says.
"We will have to do some weeding" of the current collection, Bonner said, referring to at least four drives to send books to the independent Ferguson library. Donations of money and new books have poured in since Nov. 24, when St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCullough announced the grand jury's decision not to indict police Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown.
Monday night, two weeks after the grand jury announcement, Bonner confirmed that total donations were just about $50,000 less than the library's annual budget. He said by email: "The Board is meeting tonight to work out next steps and make sure every penny is accounted for and worked into a plan."
One of the first people to tweet support of the Ferguson library said recently that she was so upset by the grand jury's decision, she was "feeling kind of helpless."
Some reporting on protests "felt it was the one consistent place they could count on," Ford said last week.
Ford tweeted her support for the library the night the grand jury decision was announced. She now says, "If I sparked it, everyone else was the fire."
Ford feels like her support of the library, with so much money given in just two weeks, may be one of the most important things she has accomplished through Twitter. Ford said last week: "This has been the first time I've been able to help anything in such a large way." She says she has also helped find a web designer to help update the library's website.
Famous authors such as Neil Gaiman also raised awareness by tweeting or retweeting support, with popular author John Green saying he'd send signed copies of his books to the library. Book lover Angie Manfredi of Los Alamos, N.M., has set up at least four wish lists of books to buy for Ferguson through Powells.com. Author Joelle Charbonneau has been urging authors to send their own books to Ferguson. Her long list of donors to Hope Through Stories includes popular writers Veronica Roth, Charlaine Harris and Jay Asher.
It has been difficult to track all of the support that the small library has received (the library has asked folks to send it links to stories so it's aware of all news pieces).
On Saturday, Publishers Weekly magazine announced that support for the Ferguson library is one of the top library stories of the year. The industry magazine ranked the Ferguson library story No. 4 out of 10, writing that "the library’s response to its community in its time of need—and the nation’s response to the Ferguson library—has been truly inspiring."
The Ferguson Municipal Public Library, founded in 1930, is in a relatively new building on North Florissant Road, but it can use some capital improvements, Bonner said two weeks ago when donations started coming in through Pay Pal. Carpeting and old computers can use updating, he said. But he has also said that his main goal is to hire a full-time children's librarian who can work on programming. Bonner is the only full-time librarian. He has 12 part-time staff members and a budget of about $400,000.
Currently, the library is offering "healing kits" to kids. They come with books about feelings and a stuffed animal. (The books can be borrowed for two weeks; the stuffed animals apparently can be kept.)
In the meantime, Left Bank Books has announced another way to help kids in the North County area. Its annual Angel Tree Book Drive will benefit Airport Elementary School in the Ferguson-Florissant School District.
The Central West End store says: "Many of these students lack books of their own. Give them the gift of reading, and ignite a passion for a lifetime of learning!
"Stop by the store and choose a child's name and a book from our Angel Tree, or donate online!"