Last week, an apartment complex in West Raleigh, North Carolina, set in motion a plan to ban a Lacy Elementary School’s bookmobile from entering and distributing books on its premises. Their reason: Company policy prohibits any events that are not initially sponsored by the corporate owner of the complex, Landmark Apartment Trust. What this means for children in the complex is a summer without reading and, as some parents fear, a risk to their educational development.
The bookmobile, which subsists on volunteers from the school district as well as donated books, was designed to offer a community service that would bridge the gap between school years and overcome potential downtime during the summer, when children are less engaged in educational activities. Servicing both East and West Raleigh, the bookmobile provides reading materials to children who cannot get access to books other ways. “It’s very important because the children don’t have anywhere else to read,” said Mayra Tifre, resident of the impacted community and mother of a second-grade daughter who attends Lacy Elementary.
When Debbie Derbyshire, a resident of the community, heard the decision was based on corporate policy, she was dismayed. “It just really didn’t seem like an appropriate response to me,” Derbyshire said. “[The bookmobile] gives these children something to look forward to and gives them an outlet which is healthy and educational.”
Other community members and educators are feeling the same way. “As far as other options, there really aren’t any,” said Candace Watson, Lacy Elementary school principal, when asked if there were any other ways to get the books to the community’s children.
In response to the ban, though, the community took a stance for their children’s education. Because of community outcry on social media and by word of mouth, Landmark Apartment Trust announced the reversal of their initial decision, and the bookmobile is now welcome back into complex. “It’s just been overwhelming how the community has reached out,” said Watson.
“We understand visits from third parties like the bookmobile create a sense of community, but it is essential that we perform our due diligence to protect our residents,” said company representatives. “As we have done in the past, we will continue to ask unapproved third parties who visit the property unannounced to kindly provide proper documentation.”
This seems like a happy ending to a situation that could have left many children without the means to read throughout the summer. It is good to see that in this instance the complex owners recognized the benefits of allowing this service to be offered to their residents.
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Contributing Editor Caitlin McCabe is an independent comics scholar who loves a good pre-code horror comic and the opportunity to spread her knowledge of the industry to those looking for a great story!