Books to Baltimore: The 2010 Dewey Donation System Book Drive for the Village Learning Place

This article was written by a member of the SheKnows Community. It has not been edited, vetted or reviewed by our editorial staff, and any opinions expressed herein are the writer’s own.

The Dewey Donation System is back online and kicking off its 2010 Book Donation Drive!

Have you met Dewey? Born in 2006, he's the offspring of author/roller-derby queen Pamela Ribon's efforts to help struggling public libraries through her website and "Tubey's Kids," the charity initiative started by Television Without Pity (TWoP) and its co-founder David "Glark" Cole. Dewey previously helped libraries in Harrison County, Mississippi, Negril, Jamaica, and Los Angeles, California.

The 2010 Dewey Drive kicked off this week, and its beneficiary is the Village Learning Place (@theVLP on Twitter), a nonprofit neighborhood library, learning center, computer lab, and community garden located in Baltimore, Maryland. Dewey shared some of the VLP's history and hopes for the future:

"The VLP’s building was Branch No. 6 of the Enoch Pratt Free Library from 1896 to 1997, when budget cuts led the city to identify a few physically smaller branches for closure. The Charles Village neighborhood demonstrated against the closure on Saint Paul Street, carrying signs that read 'RIP Library' and wearing Victorian mourning attire. This protest garnered a significant amount of media coverage, but didn’t deter the library system from planning the closure. The neighborhood residents organized further and found pro bono legal representation, suing the Enoch Pratt Free Library system to keep their branch open. They lost their suit, but won control of the building and held a community meeting to decide what to do with the space, ultimately agreeing on a library with expanded, free cultural and educational programming.

It took them three years, $1.5 million in fundraising, and thousands of volunteer hours to restore the building, install shelving, and build a new collection. Preparations for the grand opening in 2000 included a book brigade down Saint Paul Street, where the protest had been held years before.

 The VLP celebrated their tenth anniversary this summer. But now, in order to meet the needs of their community, they need to grow!"

There are three ways to participate in this year's Dewey Donation Drive and help the VLP help its community:

  • Buy a book - or two, or as many as you like - from one of the VLP's Wish Lists, and have it sent directly to the VLP by
  • Support the VLP and independent bookstores by ordering wish-list books from their local indie, The Ivy Bookshop (you'll need to order by phone and specify that you're sending books to the VLP via the Dewey Donation System, and you'll get a 15% discount and free shipping)
  • Send cash (via check, credit card, or PayPal)! A local foundation has issued a challenge grant, and will (anonymously) match cash gifts up to $30,000 total.

During the 2008 Dewey Drive, I donated a few books to the Children's Institute  here in Los Angeles. This year, I've sent three books to the VLP - and since it's September, I chose them from their Banned Books Wish List (FTR, I've read all three):

1 of: The Handmaid's Tale (Everyman's Library) [Hardcover] By: Margaret Atwood
1 of: Their Eyes Were Watching God [Paperback] By: Zora Neale Hurston
1 of: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn [Paperback] By: Mark Twain

I'm 3000 miles from Baltimore, but supporting libraries and literacy isn't just a local cause - it's worldwide! Having said that, I'd encourage my Mid-Atlantic friends - you know where you are, and where Baltimore is in relation to your hometown - to make a special effort to help out the Village Learning Place. If you choose to send books - from wherever you are - you'll have lots of options. The VLP has nine wishlists in all - the biggest are Adults, Children's,and Teens, and there are several other Special Collections geared to the needs of their community (African-American History & Culture, Teacher Resources, Parenting, Cookbooks, and Gardening).

I wanted to post this in a timely manner that would most benefit the Donation Drive, so I asked Dewey how long it would last:

DeweyDonation: @florinda_3rs the big push will be for the next two weeks, but it really does extend indefinitely. (8 minutes ago from Twitter for iPhone in reply to florinda_3rs)

So you don't have to do this right away...but why delay? Send a book to the Village Learning Place today!

Disclosure: I donated books through the Dewey Donation System in 2008 and 2010, and I met Pamela Ribon in person earlier this year. I have no other connections to this cause aside from the desire to support it.



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