Many Santa Cruz librarians will open presents belatedly this holiday season when boxes full of books are delivered to their schools in January.
Bookshop Santa Cruz is hosting its third annual book drive for local public schools. The drive will run until Dec. 31.
Shoppers will receive a 20 percent discount for books purchased for the book drive in store or online. Sometime in January, the Santa Cruz Education Foundation and other organizations will distribute all the books collected.
Book drive recipients include Santa Cruz High School, Harbor High School, and other local schools, said Santa Cruz Education Foundation member Suz Howells.
Local public school librarians submitted wish lists to Bookshop Santa Cruz composed of literature that is popular or relevant to school curriculums.
“We put the wish list out there and people buy off the wishlist,” said Bookshop Santa Cruz owner Casey Protti. “Lots of gift cards are donated [so we can] buy the remaning books off the wish lists.”
As an extra incentive, starting Dec. 2 and lasting the entire week, all donators will be entered into a raffle for a Santa Cruz Warriors gift pack.
Last year, nearly $6,000 worth of books and gifts cards were donated, Howells said.
Donors are not only compelled to help students gain an interest in reading, but are also encouraged to donate in appreciation of local librarians.
“We are in awe of the passion public school librarians have to create the next generation of readers, and we want to give them the tools to be able to do that,” Protti said.
Because of limited funds, schools have faced difficulties cultivating a new generation of readers.
“Our school libraries have not received funds to purchase books for many years,” Howells said. “It takes the support of organizations like ours in partnership with community members like Bookshop Santa Cruz to ensure our students have what they need.”
Without funding, public school librarians must be resourceful in order to maintain a well-stocked library.
“When it comes to support for libraries, it goes in waves,” said Harbor High School librarian Joyce Smith. “There has been no state or federal funding for us for at least six years, so we are dependent on people who bring in books.”
Schools are pushing for newer non-fiction books, in part due to a nationally mandated curriculum seeking to foster interest in science and history.
Smith referenced the outdated nature of many of these textbooks, some of which date back to 1973.
“[The books] are musty and dusty, and it’s really nice to get something students might be interested in reading,” Smith said.
In addition to promoting non-fiction, librarians are pushing for books of other genres to inspire reading.
“Biographies or memoirs of people who have gone through adversity and come out on top [are popular],” Smith said. “It’s important for students to realize there’s this big world out there — beyond what they see in Santa Cruz — and to have hope.”
The arrival of newly donated books draws in students who otherwise wouldn’t check out the library.
“It’s like Christmas day for them when the librarians get their pack of books,” Protti said. “We’ve been told they get students who immediately check those books out, and they have kids who unpack the boxes and get excited and spread the word to other kids about what’s new in the library.”