Bringing Books to Children
It’s been fifteen years since my friends and I first talked about how we could honor the memory of our good friend and co-worker, children’s book editor Lisa Novak. We knew that we wanted to do something that would bring together Lisa’s love of reading and her passion for children’s literature. So with this goal in mind, we created The Lisa Libraries, an organization dedicated to building or supplementing small libraries for kids in under-served areas, and to providing new books to kids who may never have owned a book of their own.
In order to get started, we needed new books (and lots of them!). The first thing we did was contact everyone we knew in the publishing business. Editors, authors and illustrators usually have multiple copies of the books that they’ve worked on, and after hearing about The Lisa Libraries, they were all eager to help. Publishing companies have also been a wonderful resource, and we struck gold with Publisher’s Weekly, a magazine which reports on news in the publishing world and writes reviews for about-to-be published books. They’ve generously passed along thousands of children’s books to The Lisa Libraries over the years.
Once the books started rolling in, we looked for places where a small children’s library would be most beneficial. In the early days, we contacted day care centers, after-school programs and community centers, and several state prisons with children’s visiting areas, and just asked if they’d like us to send them some new books for the children. Now we rely on word of mouth to spread the news about The Lisa Libraries, and we’re thrilled that the number of applications we receive has increased every year.
My long-time assistant, Elisa, now runs The Lisa Libraries. She regularly contacts donors, processes applications, writes the newsletter, and oversees the volunteers who organize the donated books by age and category and put together the boxes for distribution. There’s a lot to do because just last year, The Lisa Libraries donated over 15,000 books to non-profit organizations throughout the United States! Luckily, we’ve moved our inventory out of the original warehouse - my spare bedroom - to a real warehouse in Brooklyn. (Can you imagine trying to organize that many books in a tiny bedroom? Neither could I!)
On a personal note, I’m very proud of The Lisa Libraries and all that it has accomplished over the years. I can’t think of a better tribute to my friend Lisa’s memory. Nothing would make me happier than to know that The Lisa Libraries will go on for many, many years to come, continuing with its goal to put new books into the hands of eager young readers. If you would like to learn more about The Lisa Libraries, be sure to check out the web site at http://www.lisalibraries.org/frames.html.
Until next time, happy reading!