How Authors Can Help After a Disaster

 

by Debbie Burke

@burke_writer

NASA Goddard Photo of the Camp Fire, Paradise, CA

The Camp Fire in Paradise, California killed scores of people and destroyed 13,972 homes, 528 commercial structures and 4,293 other buildings (according to NPR, 11/27/18).

Our nephew and his wife were among those who lost their homes, barely escaping with old family photos and two pairs of pants—the size 36 jeans he was wearing, and the size 28 US Navy trousers that had belonged to his grandfather (my father-in-law) when “Pop” served on the USS Enterprise during World War II.

The fire destroyed countless memories, mementoes, and relics of history—the foundations upon which people build their lives, identities, society, and culture.

Amid the devastation, the Paradise Library remained standing, although damaged.

Beth Zimmerman, a national expert on disaster recovery says, “The library will be a key to providing [survivors] a known place to gather and take time to commune with their neighbors. Libraries can soothe children’s fears and help them cope, especially if they are used to going there.”

When everything familiar and comforting is lost, books can help recreate a sense of safety and security.

Melanie Lightbody, head of the Butte County Library System says, “The library is one of the few buildings which survived and therefore will be even more crucial to the community as it rebuilds. A symbol of possibility and hope.”

Efforts are underway to rehabilitate the structure and contents. Author Phil Padgett is spearheading a pledge drive for books to repopulate the library’s shelves. A former FEMA reservist who deployed to New York after Hurricane Sandy, Phil understands the complex, long-term logistics of rebuilding.

Unlike immediate necessities, such as bottled water, food, clothing, and construction materials, books fall into the category of way-down-the-road work. Yes, they are needed but what do you do with them in the mean time when there is no place to put them?

For now, Phil is compiling a list of authors who have pledged to donate their books. In coming months, he will coordinate collection, cataloguing, and storage. Later, when the library is ready to receive the books, he will arrange for shipping.

Books can be solace in time of tragedy, taking people’s minds off their troubles.

One of the best compliments I ever received came from a reader in Florida. My thriller Instrument of the Devil was released at the same time Hurricane Irma hit. The woman said my book had helped her pass the long, difficult week when she (and millions of others) had no electricity.

As authors, we don’t necessarily run bulldozers or nail up plywood but we can help rebuild lost culture.

If you’re an author who would like to donate to the Paradise Library, Phil’s email is: philip.j.padgett@gmail.com 

 

 

 

Does your Amazon holiday gift card have spare change left on it? Catch the January sale of Debbie Burke’s award-winning thriller Instrument of the Devil  for only 99 cents. Or read for free on Amazon Prime. Click here.

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An Excess of Books

Nancy J. Cohen

What do you do when you have too many books in your house, and you can’t possibly read them all? Give away the print books and switch to Ebooks? That’s one solution. I prefer to be selective about the print books and combine my reading of paper copies with my Kindle reads.

Recently I had the occasion to sort through two cartons of books sitting on my dining room floor since who knows when. They contained an assortment of books obtained from conferences and booksignings. This examination became necessary when our recent ceiling remodeling had us moving loose items of furniture from the room, and we noticed flying insects along with coffee grounds material against one wall. And—uh,oh—they were in the boxes of books as well. My bookshelves are overflowing; I had no choice except to box up the surplus.

I reverently removed each book, dusted it off, shook out the pages, and stacked them on top of my washer in the laundry room. Noting the dust on the open bins in which I’d kept them, I resolved to obtain some sealed plastic containers from Target. But first, I really should decide which books to keep.

After making an appointment with the termite inspector, I proceeded to weed through the dozens of books. I made a pile out of the ones I knew I’d never read, the ones whose pages were yellowing, and the ones that only mildly appealed to me. The remainders I put into those plastic containers I’d just bought for that purpose. Hopefully these closed bins would not allow insects to penetrate even though it might not be ideal for preservation.

So what to do with the giveaways? These are not books I’d written, mind you. Those are in cartons as well and need a thorough inspection. But these discards deserve just as much respect. So here are the choices in giving away print books:

1. Donate them to the local library for their book sale.
2. Trade them in at a used bookstore and get some hard to find backlist titles in return.
3. Give them to a booklover who will enjoy them.
4. Bring them to an assisted living facility or other needy place that will accept them.
5. Donate them to the library in your housing community building, if there is one. If not, you could possibly start a library there with permission.
6. Offer a couple of dozen each as a contest prize (but only the newer books). I got this idea from another writer who does a Rafflecopter contest for her gently used books.
7. One of my FB friends suggested setting up a Sidewalk Lending Library. Maybe she has nothing else to do, but I’d rather just donate the books to the community center and set one up there. Plus you might need a vendor license for this option.

Do you have any further suggestions? And no, a bonfire is not an acceptable option. Where do you store your excess TBR print books if not on your shelves?

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