The Frank Bertetti Benld Public Library
Click here to return to Main Page
Since 1997, SCBWI-Illinois has actively sponsored the Children's Room of the Frank Bertetti Benld Public Library.
BOOKS FOR BENLD
"Is the library open yet?"
This is the question, says Library Director Michael J. Baldwin, that excited children peppered him with repeatedly in September of 1997. With eyes round as cucumber slices they came, impatiently counting the days until they could pull up a chair and sit at the low wooden tables in the Children's Library Room with a brand new book.
No wonder the children of Benld were excited. They’d never had a library of their own before. The newly-constructed Frank Bertetti Benld Library was a monumental event for the economically-depressed coal mining town that boasted a small, but diverse, population of 1,600.
"When Benld was founded, there were 168 first graders," says Mr. Baldwin. "Among them, they spoke 124 different languages and dialects. Most can trace their ancestry to the same island, Ellis."
The Illinois Library Association connected SCBWI-Illinois with the Benld Public Library a few months before its grand opening October 26, 1997. The Chapter gladly took the Children's Room under its wing, collecting books at Chapter programs and buying books to meet the readers' Wish Lists
Operation "Books for Benld" received an enthusiastic kick-off at SCBWI’s 1997 October "Book and Boo Bash." Ghosts, goblins and ghouls arrived at Kohl's Children Museum in Winnetka bearing best-selling books for Benld’s new library. And the tradition has continued. Book donations are collected at every Chapter Program, brought by SCBWI members who want to make a difference.
"The books that your group sends us are a big help," says Children’s Librarian, Mary Newman, "and very much enjoyed by the children." She often directs children to the books donated by SCBWI, especially autographed copies. Of the 9,011 books that line the library’s shelves, 2,600 are in the Children’s Department. By this summer SCBWI will have contributed well over 300 books. "Books will bring the world to this town," Regional Advisor Esther Hershenhorn commented. "They will bring possibilities."
Mary Kay Newman invites members to Benld to see the library and to meet their young patrons. She also reports that new grant money may soon be available to host author/illustrator visits. Interested SCBWI members may contact Mary at (217) 835-4045 or FBE@lcls.org . Benld is located 10 miles South of Litchfield, off I-55. Mary's comments and recent photographs are reprinted below.
MARY KAY NEWMAN SHARES NEWS OF THE NEW LIBRARY IN BENLD:
Main Page | How to Join | SCBWI-IL Events | Networks | Speakers Directory | The Prairie Wind | Message Board | Classes/Conferences | FAQ | Resources | O'Connor Scholarship | Members Only | Contact Us | Table of Contents