Cotati publisher donates books to Sandy-hit libraries
Authors use own money to ship their books
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By Kaydon Coburn  February 8, 2013 12:00 am

When Hurricane Sandy was done delivering its wrath on the east coast last fall, some of the buildings destroyed were libraries. Along with the libraries, the books inside were also ruined. The devastated areas were suddenly in need of books to restore their libraries.

Cotati publisher/publicist Karen Pierce Gonzalez took notice and pledged to help.
“The focus of my efforts is two-fold. To let people know this project is happening and to let more public school libraries know we are ready to help,” says Gonzalez.

Started in November
The Authors for Hurricane Sandy Libraries campaign was founded last November by author K.S. Brooks, of Washington state. The book campaign matches the need in the devastated public libraries, with authors who can donate books. According to Brooks, public and school libraries in Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York are on the list being helped.

“I’m more like a dating service than a distribution center. I find the libraries/schools which need books, get their information, and then match those needs up with authors who have volunteered their books,“ explained Brooks. “Then those authors send their books directly to the addresses provided.”

Locally, Gonzalez first learned about the program from a fellow writer on Facebook. She then contacted Brooks, submitted books for approval to donate, and also decided to donate her public relations expertise to the media campaign.

“I learned about it in early January. The project is intended to last for most of this year, as libraries are still rebuilding and, as of yet, don't even have storage space for new books,” Gonzalez said. “I found there was not a campaign in place. So I volunteered my company.”

Along with Gonzalez, fellow FolkHeart Press author J. Dietrich Stroeh and wife are sending four copies of "Three Months: A Caregiving Journey from Heartbreak to Healing" and six copies of his earlier book, "The Man Who Made It Rain." FolkHeart Press is contributing four copies each of 2012 releases (24 total), which includes both paperbacks and e-books. FolkHeart Press has donated copies of “Black Pepper Visions,” “Moose Mash,” “Three Months and Family Folktales: What Are Yours?”

Many of the libraries have no current storage for books at this time, so it may take months before their buildings are repaired and in good enough condition to begin accepting donations.

“Unfortunately, we’ve only found one school library ready to take donations…only of G-rated books for grades K-8. But to that one school, we’ve sent around 30 books from all over the United States and as far away as the United Kingdom. We’ve got over 60 authors on standby, ready to send their books to libraries in need,” Brooks said.

Even as the benefits of social networking can quickly happen, Brooks has found it a challenge so far in spreading the word about the campaign.

“With the internet and social networking making the world smaller, it’s been very difficult finding and contacting libraries and schools in need of books,” said Brooks.

Growing up on the east coast, Brooks did not hesitate at the opportunity to help with the book restoration effort.

“I’ll do it for as long as I have to,” says Brooks, who is a writer and lives in the wilderness. “It is very likely we will double the number of books before the project is completed.”

Brooks says extremely successful international authors are in the group, and all the contributors are extraordinary because they are willing to donate and ship copies to places in need at their own expense.

“We are involved because our authors want their literary works to make a difference in the lives of others. It is an honor to be shipping our books to fellow readers in the tri-state area that Hurricane Sandy destroyed," Gonzalez expressed.
If you know anyone in the areas affected in need of books or would like to help, contact: or FolkHeart Press. Authors for Hurricane Sandy Libraries will be on Champagne Sundays blog talk radio Feb. 24 with Big Blend Magazine.

"The aftermath of Hurricane Sandy left many schools and libraries empty. This is a way to give back to these communities, and let them know that they have not been forgotten," Brooks added.

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