Volunteers Save the Slab City Library

Just in time for our annual Slabs visit, the Slab City Lizard Tree Library was saved by a couple of awesome Southern California volunteers!

In 2010 the library suffered a terrible fate when the caretaker suffered a meltdow and destroyed much of this handmade monument. My heart shattered when I returned last year, only to find the library was further deteriorating after three years of no maintenance.

But a couple of weeks ago I was contacted by half of a dynamic duo of women who love visiting the Slabs and its enchanting library. She wrote to tell me about a generous and wonderful plan that her friend Amy had hatched to try to save this institution.

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Just a couple of weeks ago this dynamic duo went to the Slabs to help preserve the library. Here’s how the day went according to Kim:

A resident named Russell came by and joined our effort by sawing up wood we brought to make bookshelves. Russell arrived on a motorcycle with a dog in the passenger seat . . . He stayed and worked with us until we had to leave at 3.

Another resident arrived on a motorcycle and said “the lady who used to own this place, she would be happy about this.” we told him that’s what we were aiming for. I think his name was Chuck. He straightened up a bunch of books that someone had left before we arrived that day.

I think others did some work before we got there, as it was a bit tidier than December 2013, and it seemed there were quite a few piles of donations. We patched the roof where we could. It still needs some work and the back needs a wall patching to protect the books, but hopefully people will add to what we tried to start. We left wood out there, but also know it could end up at another camp. As long as it helps someone who needs it – that is fine by us.

As cars and bikes went past that day, everyone waved – although they might have been waving at Russell, not us.

We had five large bins stuffed with books. I have probably five more’s worth here that we had to leave behind. We will be delivering those held back books to the library, but probably not before October.

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In a letter to others who had donated materials and books to this project, the women wrote:

Dear Contributors,

I wanted to thank all of you so very much for your generous donations. The books were very well received and a special thank you goes out to the Girl Scout troop who donated so many children’s books. The residents were very happy to see those.

We were busy with the roofing and clean-up – so the only person you see in these photos is my friend Amy Hooper who actually came up with the idea that the two of us could make a difference out there. All by ourselves. I also didn’t get the kind of time I would have liked to show more of what we had accomplished since projects like this always take far more time than you estimate they will.

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A few residents picked up hammers and saws and helped us construct bookshelves. One resident quietly wandered in and straightened up a whole two shelves of books that had been donated prior to our arrival and quietly left. I only noticed the straightened books when I went in to do that task myself.

I also want to thank Flora And Sharon’s New and Recycled Reads Bookstore located in Costa Mesa, CA (near Triangle Square.). This bookstore donated a large amount of books to our project and they didn’t ask one single thing in return. They were as nice as could be when I came by to haul away potential profits from their store. The store is organized, clean, friendly, and lots of fun. So if you are so inclined, go by their store and check them out. I will be putting them on my regular used bookstore haunt list – and I didn’t even know about them until this project. Their address is 145 Broadway Ave., Costa Mesa, CA 92627.

We are planning on returning in October/November to see what else we can do.”

Thank you Amy and Kim

What an incredible act of kindness and generosity these two women have! The fact that they’re only infrequent visitors to the Slabs but still cared enough to put so much energy into saving the library speaks volumes about their character. Can we please have more of this kind of spirit in the world? Please?

A big, big THANK YOU to Amy and Kim for helping to save this one-of-a-kind institution!

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