Two days ago marked the end of a campaign that began seventeen years ago. We called ourselves Reading Roundup. We formed to help Springfield Public Schools libraries improve their book collections to meet the highest standards set by the state. We were a small group of like minded members of the community who believed passionately in the necessity of placing quality books into the hands of students. We were always advised by numerous knowledgeable district folks: librarians, supervisors, administrators; but we operated as an independent, grass roots band of seven people or so: Terry Bond, Morey Mechlin, Rex Hansen, Renee Hunt, Jim Troye, Linda Fredrick, and me.
We met monthly for a long time and found all sorts of ways to bring our campaign to the public. The schools needed books! Our Springfield community agreed and we raised a lot of money. The school board pitched in by dramatically increasing its annual budget for books. From 2000-2007 the combined efforts of the district, Reading Roundup volunteers, and others added or replaced more than 190,000 library books costing more than $3.6 million.
When Reading Roundup reached its original goal, we shifted focus to meet specific needs of individual school libraries. Librarians throughout the district began submitting grant requests each year for money to make things better for their own population of students. From 2007-2017 Reading Roundup raised $150,000 to fund or partly fund 180 librarian requests that impacted on 50,000 Springfield Public Schools students.
It’s hard to sustain a fund raising campaign for seventeen years. Over the last few years our donations — the only source of our income — dried up. We could no longer continue and so this year we gave away the last of our money to fund grants, and took down our shingle. These pictures show most of our gang surprising librarians by showing up together on sort of a farewell tour. We loved it. It has been a privilege to work beside so many good people. I’d do it again. But for now, Reading Roundup exists no more.