Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Ferguson Library Stays Open, Attracts over $175,000 in Grassroot Support; FERGUSON TURMOIL: COMMUNITY SUPPORT

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Ferguson Library Stays Open, Attracts over $175,000 in Grassroot Support; FERGUSON TURMOIL: COMMUNITY SUPPORT

Article excerpt

The Ferguson Municipal Public Library, which has acted as an "ad- hoc school" when classrooms closed, has drawn donations of more than $175,000 in less than two days after famous authors such as Neil Gaiman tweeted their support.

"It doesn't seem real yet," the library's director, Scott Bonner, acknowledged Wednesday morning.

"I had no idea there was anything like that coming."

The money donated so far adds up to almost half of the library's annual budget of about $400,000, and Bonner said he hoped it would allow him to hire another full-time librarian to work with children and programming. The independent library, which has its own tax levy, serves about 21,000 residents with one full-time librarian (Bonner) and 12 part-time staff members. It relies heavily on volunteers to help with programs.

The library, at 35 North Florissant Road, is just a couple of blocks from the town's police station, has mostly maintained a 9 a.m.-8 p.m. schedule for the week before Thanksgiving. On Tuesday it closed at 4 p.m.

Bonner, 43, stayed late Monday night, watching a security monitor and grabbing a fire extinguisher when he heard a couple of attempts to kick in the building's glass doors after the grand jury decision was announced. After 10 p.m. he went home to Woodson Terrace, where he lives with his wife, Janessa Hall, and their four children.

The library, which has a pale brick facade, survived without damage Monday's unrest after the grand jury declined to indict police Officer Darren Wilson in the death of Ferguson teenager Michael Brown.

Staff tweeted Tuesday:

"Lots of kids, lots of teachers, lots of knowledge at the #Ferguson library today! Thanks! Support each other & stay safe. #whatlibrariesdo"

And as it did in August, the library invited children to come in for school.

"I call it an ad-hoc school," Bonner said while sitting at his desk Wednesday morning. Although dozens of children came, he thinks he actually had more volunteers, including some from Teach for America. …

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