Villagers come together to help Atwater school library

Recently, I received a gleeful phone call from my six-year-old nephew. He was so very excited to tell me about “library day” at his new school in Texas, at which he got “the biggest book ever, ever, ever” about jet airplanes. The kid told me things about the Concord I never even knew – imagine my pride! But we all know that story, a story I don’t even need to tell you to express importance of our school libraries – because we already know why they’re needed.

Alas, our own neighborhood school children may not have that same experience these days. You may have heard recently that the Atwater Avenue Elementary school library is in a bit of trouble – it is just one of the victims of LAUSD budget cuts that threaten to eliminate the library aide positions with layoffs, and essentially eliminating the libraries themselves.

The school needed a total of $15,000 to pay for the library staff and keep its doors open for the rest of the school year (at three hours per day), an amount it was raising through donations around town and online. With an additional $30,000, the Wonder of Reading Program will match the funds and renovate the entire library.

However, the Awater Avenue Elementary library closed last week on Friday, September 23, 2011 after an attempt to keep the doors open fell short of what it it needed. That same day, the Atwater Village Neighborhood Council granted $3,000 to the Friends of Atwater Elementary for the school – a neighborhood grant which was lastly allocated by the NC’s Budget and Finance Committee on Tuesday this week.

But getting the money in the bank will take some time, said Shelli-Anne Couch of the Friends of Atwater Elementary in an email. “Once we physically have $15,000 in hand,” she said, “we can write a check to LAUSD to buy back our library aide and get it re-opened!!”

She continued: “We’ve had such truly wondrous responses: ATX/Atwater Crossing wrote a check for $1,000 on the spot, a pensioner in Century City doorknocked 25 of her neighbors to raise $2,500, Northland Village Church put the hat around and raised $500, and our students have been walking in with their piggybanks. Really inspirational, albeit hearbreaking.”

Inspiring indeed!

Friends of Atwater Avenue Elementary will continue to “rattle our donation cans,” as Shelli-Anne put it, until the library doors are open – and hopefully no longer threatened with closure.

Click here to make a donation, or send any inquiries to

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