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Books Boost Moods
Photo: Jean Scheijen
The Harrison County (Mississippi) Library System is distributing books free of charge to residents in Biloxi and D’Iberville. People across the nation donated thousands of books for people who were affected by Hurricane Katrina. Libraries are among the many buildings that were damaged or destroyed.

The distribution centers have been very popular judging by the number of people who eagerly searched the tables during the hours of distribution. After negotiating the crowded parking lots, people found animated crowds inside. Over and over, excited cries echoed around the room, “Look what I found!” Copies of cherished texts or interesting looking books were eagerly picked up.

As the crowds ebbed and flowed, numerous exchanges took place. “Who is looking for children’s books?” “Here are copies of the...”  “Let me help you clear a space.” Most heart-warming were the generous gestures when two people reached for the same book. One woman graciously shared a book she had chosen when another mother exclaimed that it was one of her son’s favorite stories.

Moving Forward

While people stocked up on reading material, relationships were renewed also. For many former neighbors, it was the first time to see each other since the storm swept through more than six months ago. After trading stories (and often dabbing at moist eyes), they balanced books while pens and paper were located in order to jot down new telephone numbers.

Although many people entered the distribution centers with tense faces, most of them usually left smiling. Library staff members reflected their satisfaction in serving the community even though facilities were not operable. As it progresses, the book distribution process demonstrates that sharing between communities relieves despair during times of trouble.

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Norma Sahlin. Copyright © 2013 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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