Louisiana Book Relief: Help Restock Flooded Libraries

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An aerial view of Baton Rouge, LA after 2016 flooding. Picture by U.S. Department of Agriculture.


All of us at First Book have been heartbroken to learn ways recent floods in Louisiana have destroyed public libraries, school libraries, and home libraries across Baton Rouge and the surrounding areas.

Even before the flood waters started to recede in Baton Rouge, we knew what residents needed most urgently: clean water, a roof overhead, and the peace of mind that comes from knowing your next meal is not a gamble. But what comes afterwards? Where do we start to rebuild the foundation of a community?

“We lost everything in our library,” said Claire Clickingbeard, a teacher at Tanglewood Elementary in Baton Rouge. “As well as all teachers’ personal collections.”

books-baton-rouge_origTeachers from Baton Rouge and across the country wrote and told us where they needed to start.

“Our school lost its entire library, including all the books in individual classrooms,” said Sarah Batty, a teacher at Denham Springs High School in Livingston Parish. “As I was sorting through the books, I opened a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird. This particular book had been handed down through three teaching generations. I saw the ink from the handwritten notes running down the pages…and I lost what little bit of composure I still had left. It was my favorite teacher possession, and there it was dripping in the remains of the river that ran through my school.”


First Book is raising funds to help restock school libraries across the region for Claire, Sarah and many other educators and their students. Funds raised will help us cover the shipping and handling costs of donated books, as well as the purchase of additional books from the First Book Marketplace.

We invite anyone passionate about the power of books, education, and the importance of community to make a donation. If you are an individual that would like to help, please visit our fundraising page to make a donation. Each $1 donated will be MATCHED with a new book from our publishing partners, up to $30,000.

We are working with our friends at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and other publishers who have generously donated a range of new books to this effort. If you are a publisher interested in contributing books to schools and programs affected by the floods, please email First Book at fbnbb@firstbook.org.

If your school or program was affected by the recent floods and would like to request new books to restock shelves or to share with the children you serve, please enter your contact information here. Please note that completing this form will not guarantee that you will receive books, but it will be the first step in the process.  First Book will share books and resources with as many schools and programs as we are able.

Please join us in restoring the basic resources needed for a school.