The report from our amazing project leader, Tara:
The LA Family Housing Library renovation project has been amazing. It started early on, when everyone reached out to friends and local businesses and we were overwhelmed with generous donations of new and nearly new books, games, art supplies, videos and dvds – more than we ever hoped for. THANK YOU to everyone who donated these items! (a special thank you to the folks at Storyopolis, a wonderful children’s book store in Sherman Oaks, who donated a bunch of new books – check them out, they are great)!
It was so easy to organize the event: I just sent out an email with everything we’d need for the day, from people-power to moving boxes to multi-colored tape, and everyone stepped up and pitched in, and we had everything we needed.
As you look at the before and after pictures, it is a little difficult to see how much we really changed the space. It is much more apparent when you are there in person. You cannot see, for example, how much fresher and cleaner it is and that over 60% of the old books have been removed and replenished by newer more relevant ones. It’s also difficult to see how the flow of the room works so nicely now, especially how the play area and the arts and crafts area work in a more organized and inviting fashion. And that the video area is well stocked with great kid-friendly videos, and the couch looks much more inviting and homey now.
On the volunteer day most people did not arrive on time -- because they were already there 15 minutes early! It was a great feeling to be working together with such a skillful, fun, energetic group of people. We started out by moving the newly donated and the old books, videos and toys outside. We then divided into groups – inside to clean, reorganize and fix broken things and outside to sort and label books.
I was outside and a little overwhelmed at first by the mountain of books to review! Margaret, Mary Ellen and I kept holding them up – should we keep it? Cecilia, LA Family Housing’s volunteer coordinator, kept us ruthless – out with the old, in with the new! Vivian and Kathleen were especially helpful since they both have kids and were a little bit more in-touch with what is the latest/greatest. Daniel, who took a day out of his weeklong LA vacation to help (he lives in Germany – thank you Daniel!) organized our sorting area and went through piles of books. Once we got over the fact that we had to ditch so many of our childhood favorites, we made short work of it.
Meanwhile, inside, Karla and Chad fixed everything that was broken from the foosball table to the flooring while Cyrena, Judy, and Melissa cleaned everything top to bottom. Margaret and Michelle figured out how to make the donated slip cover work on the couch (the sizes were off, but it all worked out). Michelle and Cyrena created an inviting, organized an arts and crafts area out of a rather chaotic mess. Melissa sorted and reshelved the videos and DVD while Chad sorted and reorganized the toys. Judy got all of us lunch, thanks Judy! All was ready for the books to return...
Meanwhile, outside, we were trying to figure out which catagories we really needed, since the temp ones I set up turned out to need refining. We had most trouble trying to distinguish between Picture Books and Early Readers – thank you Judy and Cyrena for figuring that out! We color-coded the sorted books with stickers and brought them back inside...
Once the books were re-shelved, we had labeled the shelves with multicolored camera tape thanks to Melissa’s tape roll with a million colors of tape. As a finishing touch, we hung Karla’s 3 handmade picture frames (thanks Karla!) which we used to feature artwork done by the children. See the pictures, they look beautiful.
Last but not least we hauled away all of the bags and boxes of discarded books, thanks to Chad and Judy doing for doing most of the heavy lifting, and donated them to the North Hollywood Public library where the librarian was thrilled to receive them.
Great project, great people, great day. I was really tired in a happy way. : ) Tara