Book Bus Service In Rockaways Changes Focus, But Still Important to the Area

During this week on the book bus we were interviewed by the New York Times and CBS local radio. (The links are on the bottom of this entry) I’m glad to get publicity for what Queens Library is doing, and hopefully the coverage can raise awareness of how devastated parts of the Rockaways are from Storm Sandy. I learned though to try to answer interview questions as honestly as one can, but not everything can fit into the article or clip. I tried to give an overall review of what our library system service was doing at multiple locations and name some of the hard working staff. But the focus for the New York Times article and CBS radio clip was the book bus.

Immediately, the day that the article came out, we had some local people inquire about donations of books.  We emphasized to the NYT reporter that the free books were very much appreciated, and she included that in the article. On November 7th and 8th there was no book bus service because of the possible Nor’easter. My colleagues at Queens Village filled the bus with two full shelve cases and about seven boxes of withdrawn books. Sometimes books are withdrawn simply because of low circulation, not because of condition.  I think within three days those freebies were gone. People really appreciated them. I think some may just have too many things going on right now to worry about returning books. Today it rained all day and was our slowest day.  But Monday we got a few boxes of donations of children’s books to give away from multiple givers. I have a hunch that those donators might have seen the New York Times articles.

Over a week ago, I wrote about how the experience has been on the book bus, and I think I wrote that entry well. So I don’t think I’ll necessarily write on this every week as I planned to. In the radio clip interview that was taped yesterday afternoon and put up last night I said it seems the focus has returned to library services. I think that’s true, and in a way it’s a positive thing. Some are still without power in the area but there is less confusion. So our role as passing out information and verifying information is not as intense as it was the first two weeks. Our presence there is still important, and I’m glad people are taking the time to make sure their library accounts are in good standing. People in the area should not have overdue or damaged books change their credit rating, so clearing accounts and returning books for people is important in my opinion.

I think one thing that the library system and library supporters can do in this time is continue giving out free books for people in the areas devastated by the storm. Donations are coming, but it’s still a little bit each day. We are only a book bus and couldn’t handle a ton of books at a time anyway. But I think Arverne, Far Rockaway, and Howard Beach are accepting donations too. Far Rockaway has done coat drives and was a distribution center before they had power back, so I’m sure they would pass out free books too. I’ve received emails from several colleagues and friends in the past few days about book donations, so I know there is a lot of interest to give.

Urban Librarians Unite (ULU) has been in this area for 4 or more years and I think recently got full non-profit status. So any donations to them could be used for tax purposes. They raised awareness through events and rallies for libraries during the past three years of the city budget cycle. Aside from the library systems themselves, this is really the one group of active professionals that is set up to do stuff for libraries right now. The Deskset holds fundraisers and raises money for good cuases, but ULU actively raises awareness of library issues. Currently ULU has a children’s book drive, through Powell books, an independent West Coast bookstore. From facebook status updates from some of the ULU members they already have thousands of children’s books that they are organizing and distributing.  Today they posted that a make shift book shelve of free books in Red Hook Brooklyn was already empty. So their book drive goal is citywide, for Queens, Brooklyn, and Statin Island.  Here is the link to their donation page, and I think they have a few entries explaining the book drive too so browse their site.

I might as well give the Queens Library sites to help out too. For donations or to pitch out ideas visit the Queens Library foundation’s site. . If you want to send an email with an idea to queens library, email this:

Lastly, I’ll write about my work experience when I see it can help raise awareness or serve a purpose. But I think I’ll write on my other interests more regularly until I get a solid idea on how to document my work experience in a productive way.


####Here is the New York Times article published on November 26th 2012 on page A21.

####Here is the radio clip that aired late night November 26th 2012.





2 thoughts on “Book Bus Service In Rockaways Changes Focus, But Still Important to the Area

  1. Great post, Matt. I’m so glad that I can keep up with what’s happening in Queens, through posts like yours, Facebook, ULU, and–as you mentioned, even the national news!

  2. Thanks Dale,
    I’m sure it must be weird since you just left Queens a few months ago, and so many people you know are involved in this. It’s great to get encouragement from friends and colleagues all over through facebook and email.

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