As published in the Red Rock News
Library Lovers Month is celebrated nationally throughout the month of February, and Sedona Public Library regularly participates in the fun. This year, we wanted to turn the tradition on its head, and say “We Love You” instead. Your library loves you, Sedona! All of you, and we’re showing our love in small and large ways.
For instance, patrons can receive a coupon to pay off fines. Replacement cards are free, and on Fridays we’re providing goody bags with the coupon, a notepad, button, chocolate, and more. Kay Bork, former employee and volunteer said, “What a nice surprise to receive your library goody bag on Friday! It's a great way to connect with patrons even while we're socially distancing.”
One of the most important ways we love our community is through our many partnerships. SedonaKind joined the fun and installed a “Kindness Tree” in the children’s room. Kids and families can write a recent act of kindness on a heart-shaped ornament and hang it on the tree. Kind acts noted so far include: “I taught my dad how to play ‘Deck the Halls;’” and “I helped my friend with their homework.”
Another important partnership is with Sedona Area Homeless Alliance (SAHA). They collect supplies (sleeping bags, blankets, pillows, etc.) for distribution to the homeless. A local expert reported approximately 125 homeless in the area early this winter. “What we all experience with COVID,” they suggested, “is similar to what homeless people experience every day. The loneliness and the isolation.” And the highest priority for the homeless is a safe place to sleep.
While the Library can’t provide safe sleep, Ryan Dowd, a national expert on the homeless and author of The Librarian's Guide to Homelessness, says, “There is one word, and that word is SOCKS!”
Why socks, you ask? Great question. Dowd explains that individuals experiencing homelessness walk around a lot, in all kinds of weather. Imagine not having a warm, dry home, let alone warm, dry feet, during the storm we had a few weeks ago.
So what has your library done? We’ve created a “Sox Box.” The box for sock donations is in the lobby in West Sedona and near the door at our service center in the Village. We’re asking everyone to help us fill the box with socks.
Dowd recommends plain socks, and tube socks, if available, because they go up the calf and keep more of the body warm. And, finally, men’s socks. Why? They’re larger and can be worn by anyone, even children.
According to Cheri Baldwin, board member and volunteer at Sedona Community Food Bank, there are at least 36 currently known homeless or foster children in the area. Cheri mentioned SedonaKind has established a clothing room at Red Rock High School, and socks are always a popular item.
For Sedona Public Library to make this effort is not unlike many libraries across the nation. According to the American Library Association, “Access to library and information resources, services, and technologies is essential for all people, especially the economically disadvantaged.” Across the country, there’s been increasing discussion of how libraries can address homelessness and mental health issues.
A 2018 report by the Chicago Tribune estimated there are now more than 30 library systems across the country with full-time social workers. Seattle Public Library has librarians that regularly set up small stations in tent cities throughout the vicinity.
Granted, Sedona is a much smaller city, but it is worth noting that from Flagstaff to Cottonwood there are five homeless shelters and in Sedona, SAHA stays busy.
Additionally, Manzanita Outreach, a food provider in Cottonwood, sees approximately 600 cars every two weeks in their curbside food box pickup program. Cheri Baldwin says that Sedona Community Food Bank assists approximately 150 people a week.
Sedona Public Library is proud to support organizations that do the work that we can’t do like providing certain services to our disadvantaged patrons. What the Library does offer is an array of resources, just ask a librarian, and literature, here are some items on homelessness from our collection that might interest you.
For movie buffs, please consider watching The Public, from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. If fiction is your thing, we have Booker Prize 2020 shortlist Burnt Sugar, by Avni Doshi. If you like nonfiction, you might read Journeys out of Homelessness: The Voices of Lived Experience, by Jamie Rife.
Our youth services librarians recommend the YA novel Crenshaw, by Katherine Applegate (2015), and children’s picture book A Chair for My Mother, by Vera B. Williams (2009).
Come on by, read for a while, scan our resources, and be sure to pick up a goody bag and a “My Library Loves Me” button. Wear it this month, wear it always, and let everyone know your library loves you.
Finally, please consider coming by with new socks for our box. We’re about 30 percent full, and we know we can get there with your help. As Ryan Dowd says, “Instantly the world is a better place. Remember, empathy is the answer.”
Sedona Public Library
Column for February 19, 2021
Written by Anne Marie Mackler, Development Director
Library News appears each Friday in the Red Rock News.