RoseAleta Laurell takes a position as Director of the Dr. Eugene Clark Library in Lockhart, Texas, a small town with the oldest continuously operating library in Texas (built in 1899).
Before I continue with the review of this great true story, I need to tell you that this woman is now the Director of the Bell Whittington Public Library in Portland, Texas where I just happen to live. Through a poster of books about books, this title caught my eye, making me want to find out about this crazy title. In hot pursuit, I saw the name of the roof-bound librarian and recognized it. With a bit of further research, I find that there are not two of these women with that same name running libraries in Texas. This is my librarian…right here!!! I LOVE IT! Knowing my library would surely have a copy, I placed a hold on it, picking it up ASAP!
With that said now, I will continue my review: This wonderfully illustrated book is about this librarian who grew up on a North Carolina tobacco farm two miles from the nearest paved road. The town’s bookmobile would stop regularly on that paved road where RoseAleta would find books that opened up a whole new world to her and would eventually lead her to become a librarian. The Dr. Eugene Clark Library, where she became director in 1989, may have been operating since 1899, but it was running way behind in the present digital age, let alone the future of the way libraries were heading. The children’s department was nil, nada, niente. Children did not come to this library, yet the town was full of them. So she, in her unorthodox librarian non-“quiet please” ways, took the job seriously and began a major overhaul of this library. Ms. Laurell began with updating the library: bringing in computers, free internet access, resources for the Spanish-speaking community, restoring and expanding this historic building. And then…she needed to raise money for the children’s department. This fund-raising campaign took her to the roof turret where she spent seven days and nights. She took a tent, a chair, her laptop, and supplies. She planned to stay there until the $20,000 was raised. With only some resistance from the City Council and Mayor, the whole town quickly joined ranks with Ms. Laurell and the fund-raising began. By the end of seven days, the town had raised almost double the goal. She came down from the roof. The new children’s department became a reality with great success. Children came for story times, to read books, to learn to use the computers. They had a library to come to now where they felt wanted.
This is a book about one woman making a difference for a small Texas community. It’s about a town filled with people of all ages who made a difference for their children, seeing the importance of a library for them and for future generations. It’s about people working together to make that difference. It’s about hope and standing up for what they believed in and for where they saw a need. Knowing that it is a true story makes it all the better because things can happen when we work together towards goals.
Reading Level: 5 – 8 Years
Represented Texas on the 52 GREAT READS list at the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C., 2010
SHOW ME READERS AWARD final nominee, 2012-13
M. G. King is a children’s author, a wife, and mother of two boys. She wrote Fizz & Peppers at the Bottom of the World which was nominated for the 2013 CYBIL Award.
She can be found @ http://mgking.us/
and @ http://joannamarple.com/2011/09/librarian-on-the-roof-interview-with-m-g-king/
Stephen Gilpin illustrated this book with cartoon-like drawings, strong colors with nothing understated! Stephen Gilpin is the award-winning illustrator of over 30 children’s books with clients that include Disney, Harper Collins, Scholastic and the Wall Street Journal. He lives and works with his wife Angie in Hiawatha, Kansas. He can be found @ http://sgilpin.com
RoseAleta Laurell can be found @ http://pearl.unt.edu/blog/rosealeta-laurell and
and be sure to look at the real photo at the bottom of this review.
If I may, I will take you back to the Bell Whittington Public Library in Portland, Texas:
This small town library in Portland, Texas was awarded two awards last year as our library has had many excellent changes happen since RoseAleta Laurell stepped into this library as Director:
Best Small Library in America 2013-Finalist (one of the top three!) – Library Journal’s Best Small Library in America award is sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and showcases exemplary work of libraries serving populations under 25,000 (our population is just over 15,000).
Texas Library Association’s “Libraries Change Communities” Award 2013
- ISBN-13: 9780807545126
- Publisher: Whitman, Albert & Company
- Publication date: 9/1/2010
- Pages: 32
- Product dimensions: 8.10 x 10.10 (h) x 0.40 (d)
Original review was done FEBRUARY, 2014.