TAKE A CARD, LEAVE A BOOK — The holiday book tree is set up in the front of Dahlia & Sage Community Market for the remainder of the month.

Book tree matches up donations with district libraries

This holiday season, Cloverdale school libraries are receiving the gift of books. The CARE (Cloverdale Adds Resources for Education) Foundation has coordinated with local librarians and teachers to set up a “holiday gift tree,” with bright red ornaments that list individual books that community members can buy and donate to school and classroom libraries in the Cloverdale Unified School District.

The tree, housed at Dahlia & Sage Community Market, is operated like most holiday wish list trees — you peruse one of the paper ornaments on the tree, pick one out and purchase the book listed to donate.

 “You just pick a card and buy a book and bring it to the (Cloverdale High School) school office, and it goes directly into our very outdated school collections,” said Kathleen Linn, library manager for Cloverdale High School. “We’re trying to make the libraries more current.”

The books will be collected at the high school and then distributed to their intended schools from there.

Linn said that some classrooms and students are working off of (specifically nonfiction) books that were released in the ’60s and ’70s.

This is the second year that CARE has put up the tree — last year, it was up for one night only during the winter festival. While the plan was to have the same happen this year, the tree ended up moving inside to Dahlia & Sage where it will be housed for the duration of December.

The tree is part of a concentrated effort that CARE has to help stock school libraries with more, and newer, books, CARE board president Joanne Parker said.

“Last year at the booth there was a very real heartfelt ‘oh god, this is a great idea, I really like this,’” Parker said. “I know some people, instead of giving gifts to family members who didn’t really need anything else, gave a gift to a school instead.”

She said that last year librarians from the district asked for around 120 books and while the community supplied 80 of those, CARE bridged the gap and fulfilled the rest of the wishes. Additionally, they were able to donate 150 more books due to a donation from the Vulcan Foundation. Since the tree was well-received, they decided to work with the librarians and put it up again. The tree started out with 75 tags this year, but Parker said that they will be adding more on as librarians and teachers remember additional books that they would like for their students.

She said that she thinks the tree provides a unique way for community members to support the school district — instead of giving money, they’re able to give something more tangible.

“It’s a strange one because it has this tangible (component) on both ends — people can pick a book that means something to them, and they’re giving something to the schools (instead of money),” she said.

Working the CARE booth at the festival last year, she noticed that people would scour the tree for ornaments listing titles that they had read, excited to purchase them for students to enjoy.

“It’s funny, because everybody picks what’s important to them,” she said.

Having the tree adorned with specific titles suggested by the librarians and teachers who could use them is beneficial because then the donations come in having already been evaluated for each grade level, Linn said.

“It allows us to take in books we know we’ll use,” she said.

The books available to buy and donate are titled asked for by librarians at Cloverdale High School, Washington Middle School and Jefferson Elementary School, and span a variety of subjects. Linn said that about half of the titles requested for the high school are nonfiction, since they’re trying to beef up that part of the library. She also said that a portion of the books requested for the district are ones that are in Spanish, since they’ve seen an increased desire from bilingual students who want to be able to read books in Spanish.

To pick up a book card from the holiday book tree, visit Dahlia & Sage Community Market at 115 East 2nd Street. Community members are being asked to bring purchased books to the Cloverdale High School Office.

Note: CHS is will be closed for winter break from Dec. 23 to Jan. 7, so books may have to be dropped off after the break.

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