At over 500 book donations in less than five days, you guys are fantastic.

Dear Pamie,

A few days before Hurricane Katrina, I left my apartment in Long Beach, MS and headed down Hwy 90 to the Gulfport public library. I had just finished up two years as a visiting faculty member at the University of Southern Mississippi’s campus in Long Beach, and I had decided to continue living in Long Beach for a while, in part because the hundreds of books I owned would be a pain in the ass to pack up and move. I loved to take books out to read on the Long Beach city pier, but I had pretty much run through everything I wanted to read in the Long Beach and Pass Christian libraries. So when I got to the Gulfport library, I checked out a couple of books, filled out an interlibrary loan request, chatted with the librarians, and headed home.

Katrina solved my book moving problem for me; my apartment was demolished by the tidal surge and washed into the Gulf, leaving nothing but a concrete slab. But when I packed my suitcase to get the hell out of Dodge – which, not being an idiot, I did before the hurricane — I threw in the two library books. So, I would like you to know that at least a very tiny percentage of the library’s fiction collection survived. I’d like to say that I saved copies of Ulysses and To the Lighthouse, but it was just two trashy mysteries. Friends of mine in Ocean Springs have the books now and will return them to Gulfport. I’m pretty confident that the library will waive the late fees.

One of my own books survived, too, by the way. The week before the hurricane, I loaned my copy of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince to a friend who was a visiting faculty member at Tulane; she took it with her when she evacuated and returned it to me months later, long after I had given it up for dead. I’m calling it “The Book that Lived.”

Even though I won’t return to the Coast, or to New Orleans where I lived before I moved to Mississippi, I am very thankful that you are conducting this drive for the Harrison County library system as it will benefit my friends, colleagues, and students still trying to make a go of it down there. The Coast is a miserable place to live right now. The Gulfport Barnes & Noble finally reopened recently; but many of the Gulf residents, like me, are still unemployed and can’t afford to buy books–not to mention the fact that FEMA trailers don’t have room for bookshelves. The books you help to acquire will allow people to take their minds off of the destruction around them for at least a little while.

The wish list for the Pass Christian library had been fulfilled by the time I looked at, so I am going to wait a day or two to see if they add something before I decide to donate to one of the other libraries. I’m not buying any books for myself these days, and I’m really not in a position to be making much in the way of charitable donations right now; but I can afford to buy a book for a library that used to provide me with entertainment on a regular basis.

Thank you for your efforts,

Beth Ellen Roberts


4 Comments

  1. I would like to let everyone know that the Pass Christian list is now updated with new requests.

  2. Thanks Michelle!

    I posted Michelle’s letter and photo from her trip to the Pass Christian branch in the Dewey blog. Be sure to check it out!

  3. Sharon Davis

    Don’t worry, Beth, your late fees will be waived, and you can drop the books off at the Orange Grove, West Biloxi, or Margaret Sherry branches. Stop by and visit at the Margaret Sherry branch if you’re ever in the area.

    –Sharon Davis
    Branch Manager, Margaret Sherry Memorial Library

  4. Hi,

    Is there a way to change the Amazon links to go to the “Library Bound” version of the book, if available? This would give libraries higher quality, longer lasting books.