An Educator’s Campaign to Revitalize Her Library

When Vanessa Cadena entered the library at Bret Harte Middle School this school year, she knew she had a big job ahead of her.

It was Vanessa’s first year at the school and the library had not been updated in almost twenty years. Full of damaged and outdated books, Vanessa saw the reluctance on the kids’ faces when they left the library with books they didn’t want to read.

“It was a space that was defined by a vast collection of outdated and tattered books, technology and furniture. It begged to be pumped with vitality again,” said Vanessa, the Library Media Specialist for the school.

To create the library her students needed, Vanessa needed some help.  She started a First Book fundraiser with the goal to raise $1,000 to invigorate the shelves.  She reached out to the PTA at both her school and the elementary schools whose students would be attending Bret Harte in the future. She spread the word via social media, faculty, friends, the local public library and the closest books hop. She even enlisted the help of an intern to pass out flyers promoting the campaign.

When she not only met, but exceeded her goal, Vanessa was ecstatic – and so were her 7th and 8th graders. With the money raised, Vanessa was able to add 350 books to her library. This year alone she has purchased 1,000 brand-new books from First Book to revitalize the collection.

It’s made an immense difference in the reading habits of her middle schoolers.

Now, Vanessa has “regulars.” She can’t keep fiction and graphic novels in stock and students race to library to see her new arrival section. When the kids take home a book, they usually finish it by the next day.

“Kids are excited to read,” Vanessa explains. “The teachers have told me this is the first year they could send their students to the library and every single student comes out with a book – and it’s a book they are reading and excited about.”

Want to bring books to your school or program, or to one in your community? Visit the First Book website to find ways you can take action for kids in need.

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