The Book Bank, that is. There are now three Literacy Connexus Book Banks. One in Montgomery County (First Baptist Church Conroe), one in Parker County (Center of Hope – combining resources of 58 churches and others), and one in Tarrant County (Western Hills Baptist Church). There are 254 counties in Texas. Be the church in your county to begin a Book Bank (251 openings by my count).
Think of a food bank. Resources come in. They are processed. They are shared. Everyone wins. A book banks works in a similar way. People donate books to the book bank. Volunteers sort them. Then the books are shared with those who lack books. The three book banks mentioned above primarily receive gently used children’s books, screen and sort them, and send them out the door with churches that share them through family reading fairs or other activities. By the thousands, these books have been shared in each noted county as well as in border communities in the Books for the Border and Beyond project.
However, not all the books are for children. In the fall BNSF Railroad in Fort Worth, share the results of a book drive with Literacy Connexus and the Tarrant Literacy Coalition. Recently volunteers sorted those books for three units of the Presbyterian Night Shelter (in Fort Worth): the main facility, the section for veterans and the space for women and children. Leslie Reisdorfer—member of Western Hills Baptist Church and employee of Meridian Bank—brought the books to the homeless shelters and shared a note from Harriet at Presbyterian Night Shelter. She noted that walking through the main shelter people were already making use of the books and several residents expressed appreciation for new books to read.
Steps in beginning a book bank at your church.
1. Meet with your church leadership: staff, missions committee, librarian, etc. Explain the concept.
2. Find a room in your church facility that could serve as a book bank. Shelves will be needed as well as a sorting area (at least one table). Proximity to an exit on the first floor or near an elevator will be helpful. Enlist volunteers to help prepare the room.
3. Advertise the need for gently used children’s books (by far the most desired items). See the Literacy Connexus website for a flyer to use http://www.literacyconnexus.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Book-Donation-Guidelines.pdf. You don’t want cast off books. We’ve made quite a few trips to the recycle bin or Goodwill. Use of this flyer will reduce that problem.
4. Enlist a volunteer team to sort books. Again, the Literacy Connexus website has guidelines for screening and sorting books. See http://www.literacyconnexus.org/b4tb-resources/core-books/
5. A donor in your church may want to give you money to buy new books. The Literacy Connexus website has suggestions for core books (See above). Jo Lee of San Antonio persuaded the manager of a Half Price Books store in her city to donate several boxes of books. Promote the project, the books will come…
6. Next the fun starts. Share what you have received with others. You may want to draft guidelines for this as in one book per child in the proposed project or giveaway.
For additional help with setting up your book bank, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org (817 696-9898). In addition, please share your progress with us. We want to partner with you to provide books.