4:00 PM, 7 September 2023
Hawkes Bay author and NZSA member Mary-anne Scott initiated the recovery project along with a group of Hawkes Bay authors, school librarians and booksellers. They teamed up with SLANZA (School Library Association of New Zealand Aotearoa) and Booksellers Aotearoa NZ to create the Books Back Better project in March 2023.
Mary-anne Scott says, “A well-stocked, library should be the beating heart of any learning environment for our tamariki. Books Back Better aims to restock flooded school libraries after Gabrielle. Monies raised will provide book tokens so the affected libraries can be filled with books best-suited for their readers.”
“Our SLANZA National Executive had been discussing ideas about how best to support school libraries around the motu that had been impacted by Cyclone Gabrielle when Mary-anne phoned me with a desire to support affected school libraries so it was a no-brainer that we do all we could to get behind a locally driven project” says Sasha Eastwood, school librarian at Manchester Street School and immediate past President of SLANZA. “The tokens will give schools agency to purchase their own books with their community needs in mind. We hope these books will give comfort to akonga/students as school communities work through recovering from the devastating damage of recent events.” School librarian at Sacred Heart Girls College Hamilton and Waikato Bay of Plenty SLANZA representative, Leonie Grigsby, says, “Thank you to our many generous donors around the motu who have supported this project. It has been heartwarming to hear of schools and communities, who share our sense of the value and importance of school libraries, doing their own fundraising projects and donating the money to Books Back Better along with other generous donors.
Books Back Better collected monetary donations from around Aotearoa to purchase Booksellers Tokens. Kura/schools, Kohanga Reo and Kindergartens affected by cyclone Gabrielle were invited to apply for funding. Through the application process kura shared heartbreaking stories of loss from this major weather event. Many are still displaced and the book tokens to purchase new books will certainly give the ākonga in those learning environments something to look forward to.
Renee Rowland, Chair of Booksellers Aotearoa NZ was keen to be involved. “Readers, writers, schools, libraries and many of our members bookshops have been impacted by the devastation of Cyclone Gabrielle. Our Association is pleased to be able to help schools, kohanga and kindies rebuild their collections by channeling the generous donations into discounted Book Tokens which can be redeemed at our members operating in affected communities in Northland, Auckland, Bay of Plenty, Tairāwhiti and Hawkes Bay.”
This week the Booksellers tokens are being delivered to those communities.
Sincere thanks to the generous donors around the motu who have supported the Books Back Better project. It was heartwarming to hear of students in other schools holding fundraising events to contribute to this cause. Donations raised over $25,000 to distribute to those schools hit hardest by the cyclone.