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Relief fund opens new chapter for public school libraries affected by disasters
AASL, ALA, NEA team with Dollar General to provide $800,000 in grants

(CHICAGO) Beginning today, $800,000 in grants will be available to rebuild and 
expand public school library media programs affected by disasters - including those 
that have opened their doors to significant numbers of new students displaced by 
last year's hurricanes.

Discount retailer Dollar General will fund the grant program, and the American 
Association of School Librarians (AASL), a division of the American Library 
Association (ALA), will administer it. The National Education Association (NEA) 
will work with AASL on the grant review committee and provide support materials to 
libraries.

"Beyond Words: The Dollar General School Library Relief Program" is the largest 
relief effort in the history of the ALA and NEA targeted specifically to public 
school libraries in the Gulf Coast and around the country.  The funding for the 
initial grants is $800,000, with individual library awards ranging from $5,000 to 
$15,000.  The funds will be used to purchase books, media, and /or library 
equipment that support learning in a school library environment.

"For many children, the school library is their first experience with a library and 
the help that a librarian can give them," said ALA President Michael Gorman. "This 
is the place where children connect with a world of ideas, information and 
resources and embark on life long learning. School library media programs are 
critical to the learning experience."

First priority for the grants will be given to school libraries impacted by 
hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma - either through direct loss or through an 
increase in enrollment due to displaced/evacuee students.  A certified school 
librarian at the campus, district or regional level will be involved in the 
selection of materials/equipment to be purchased.

"Supporting school libraries is crucial in order to restore the educational process 
in schools that have suffered a disaster." said AASL President  J. Linda Williams. 
"School library media centers are places of opportunity where students can strive 
for and achieve success, develop a love of reading and explore the world around 
them through print, electronic and other media."

Nationally, students make 1.5 billion visits to school library media centers during 
the school year - to conduct research, check out books for leisure reading, use 
electronic resources and receive instruction on how to find, evaluate and use 
information from a variety of sources.

"Bringing books back to these schools and students who have lost so much due to 
natural disasters has been a top priority for the National Education Association," 
said NEA President Reg Weaver.  "Millions of children will rediscover the joy of 
reading when the shelves of their public school libraries are restocked through 
this program's generous grants."

Dollar General has more than 8,000 neighborhood stores in 33 states - including 
2,381 in Texas, Florida and the Gulf Coast states.

"Beyond Words: The Dollar General School Library Relief Program is a natural 
extension of Dollar General's daily efforts to promote literacy and education," 
said David Perdue, Dollar General's chairman and CEO.  "Following recent disasters 
in our country, we recognized the need for support of school libraries impacted by 
these tragedies.  Through this program, we want to ensure that children whose 
schools have been impacted by a disaster have the opportunity to learn and grow 
through reading.  This is particularly important when many children only have 
access to books at their school library."

To be eligible, the school library must:

   1. Be located in a public school - PreK-12
   2. Be located within 20 miles of a Dollar General store, distribution center or 
corporate office
   3. Recently (within previous 18 months) have lost its building or incurred 
substantial damage or hardship due to a natural disaster (tornado, earthquake, 
hurricane, flood, avalanche, mudslide), fire or an act recognized by the federal 
government as terrorism, or
   4. Have absorbed a significant number (more than 10 percent enrollment) of 
displaced/evacuee students.

A second phase of the disaster relief effort is to increase the capability of 
school library media specialists to prepare for a disaster. As a result, school 
library media specialists will be better able to raise awareness among teachers and 
parents about disaster preparedness.

To learn more about this program, please visit the AASL Web site at 
http://www.ala.org/aasl/disasterrelief.  The program partners intend to begin 
awarding grants by June 2006.

About AASL and ALA 
With more that 10,000 members, the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) 
is one of the largest divisions of the American Library Association (ALA). It 
promotes the improvement and extension of library media services in elementary and 
secondary schools as a means of strengthening the total education program. The 
American Library Association (ALA) is the voice of America's libraries.  Its 
mission is to promote the highest quality library and information services and 
public access to information.

About NEA 
The National Education Association is the nation's largest professional 
organization, representing 2.8 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher 
education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired 
educators and students preparing to become teachers. More information is available 
at www.nea.org.

About Dollar General
Dollar General is a Fortune 500 discount retailer with 8,038 neighborhood stores 
in 33 states as of March 31, 2006. Dollar General stores offer convenience and 
value to customers by offering consumable basic items that are frequently used and 
replenished, such as food, snacks, health and beauty aids and cleaning supplies, as 
well as a selection of basic apparel, house wares and seasonal items at everyday 
low prices. The company has a longstanding tradition of supporting literacy and 
education in the U.S. In 2005, the company awarded more than 930 grants to 
nonprofit organizations that helped more than 81,000 individuals take their first 
steps toward literacy, a general education diploma or English proficiency. For more 
information about Dollar General, go to www.dollargeneral.com.


Katarzyna A. Agarwal
Communications Specialist

American Association of School Librarians
American Library Association
50 E. Huron St.
Chicago, IL 60611

800-545-2433, ext. 4381
312-280-4381 direct
312-280-5276 fax
kagarwal@ala.org

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