VENTURA, Calif. – In the wake of the Thomas Fire, Lydia Kresin, a 10th grader from Windward School in LA, talked to her friends about how they could help. Lydia contacted Susan Mikula, Children & Teen Services Manager at Ventura County Library with a proposal. She wanted to do a book drive for new and “gently” used books to donate to the library.
“When I asked around my school, people seemed really enthusiastic about sharing their favorite childhood books with other children,” said Lydia. “I am sure that there are many kids who are missing their books, and maybe we could help out in this small way.”
A small way is an understatement. Lydia organized a two-week book drive and collected 3,059 new and used books. A local author, Diane Soloman, heard about the book drive and donated 12 hardback copies (1 for each Ventura County Library branch) of her book about animal rescue.
The book drive grew. Meagan Mihalic, a 4th grade teacher from Westside Neighborhood School, heard about Lydia’s book drive and decided to partner with her. Meagan does an annual book drive at her school and this year’s donated books came to Ventura County Library. Meagan collected about 1,200 books.
When Lydia and her parents delivered the books to Ventura County Library, she apologized that there were one or two boxes that were books for adults. “I didn’t know what to do,” she said. “I just couldn’t stop them from donating.”
In total, the library has been given about 4,259 new and gently used books. About one-third of the books will be added to the library’s collection. Another third will be used as incentive books to give to kids and teens who read 500 minutes over the summer from June 1 through August 4. And the final third, those used books that are a little too well loved, will be donated to Friends of the Library groups in Ventura, Port Hueneme, and Ojai for their book sales.
Getting books into the hands of kids is what Ventura County Library is always trying to do. Whether it is books from the library’s collection or finding creative ways to help kids create their own home library, the library continues to show kids the value of literacy and how reading contributes to school success.