Glen Oaks Park Elementary in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is shown with extensive damage to its children’s library. Photo by: Courtesy photo
Books are strewn across the floor after flooding receded at Glen Oaks Park Elementary School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in this undated photo.
Photo by: Courtesy photo
Glen Oaks Park Elementary is shown in this undated photo with flood waters surrounding the building.
Photo by: Courtesy photo
August 27, 2016 10:20:14 PM
On Aug. 18, four days after the rains stopped, librarian Trey Veazey walked through the front doors of his Baton Rouge, Louisiana, elementary school to see if anything could be salvaged.
Veazey had just begun his first year at Glen Oaks Park Elementary School when a rainstorm inundated the Louisiana capital with historic flooding, which killed 13 people in the state and displaced thousands more.
His fears were realized when he saw the library. Flood waters had reached up to third shelves. Wet, muddied books littered the floor.
"So here I am, a brand new librarian at a brand new school, and the third day it's completely flooded and there's an empty library," Veazey said. "And that's where I was when I wrote the blog post."
The blog post is titled "A Cry for Help, or 1600ish Words on Books, Life, & Honey Buns" and in it, Veazey asks for children's books.
Veazey, a West Point native and New Hope High School graduate, has lived in Baton Rouge for about six years, working primarily as an elementary classroom teacher. One of the things he's most proud of is the children's library he's been cultivating for his students.
"I spent the last year or two really working with my students to determine the kind of books that they wanted to read and to develop a collection that really benefited them," Veazey said. "So it's particularly devastating to me to know that a good six years worth of book collecting, through books that were given to me, special gifts from students and books that I spent my own money on ... to know that I had a little over 500 books in there that were probably ruined made my stomach hurt."
In both the blog post asking for books and in life, Veazey champions children's literature. His Read shelf on Goodreads, a social media site for bibliophiles, lists more than 1,200 books. He follows authors of children's books on Twitter, has a picture of children's author Judy Blume on his desk and stocked his library with books his students have recommended to him over the years.
"I think kids' lit can do anything that any other kind of literature can do," Veazey said. "There's probably a little bit of a stigma attached to it, but I don't think at all that it's any less rich or complex or purposeful. I don't know what I would do without books."
Veazey wrote the blog post a week after he visited the library, after the ruined books had all been removed from the school. In the post, he talks about the children's books he loves, from several paragraphs on To Kill a Mockingbird to shout-outs to the suggestion that Blume could be a fairy godmother.
"I plead to you," he writes in the post. "Help us. There are kids in Baton Rouge, Louisiana that are hungry for knowledge & desperate to know that good remains in the world."
Veazey posted his plea to his website, Treyveazey.com, Thursday night, not long before going to bed.
"The next day I woke up to a ton of emails and notifications," he said. "And then at lunch time I was at the top of the front page of Reddit ... It's just a testament to people and their love of books and reading."
Though no books have arrived yet, more than 200 people have purchased books through the Amazon wish list Veazey linked on his website. Countless more have called to say they're sending some themselves, he said, and others have told him they don't know anything about children's literature, so they're sending money to his PayPal account and trusting him to use it wisely.
He received responses from children's authors and others in literature and education. One Irish author who writes adult fiction sent 500 Euros, Veazey said.
"The sheer amount of people who've said they're sending books is more than I can count," Veazey said.
The books won't just restock the library, though. Some will go to teachers' classrooms, while students who lost their possessions in the flood will receive others.
For more information on what books to send and where to send them, visit Treyveazey.com/a-cry-for-help-or-1600ish-words-on-books-life-honey-buns/
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