Two and a half months after an unpredictable tornado nearly destroyed Joplin schools, five Marshall (MO) librarians heeded the call of Joplin's Library Media Specialist Bonnie Turner without hesitation. MHS Librarian Rebecca Cramer, Early Elementary Librarian Debbie Hollrah, Eastwood and Northwest Librarian Betsy Lewis, BMS Librarian Katie Berger and retired BMS Librarian Beth Chase agreed within an hour of the initial email that they'd make it work.
They weren't alone. Marshall School District approved the one-day trip they took Friday, Aug. 5, which was scheduled as a contracted workday in Marshall Schools.
"We really appreciate the support," Cramer said of the district's willingness to stand behind them.
The women's goal was to assist Turner with organizing the busloads of books that had been donated. More than 70,000 manuscripts were given to the district after the EF-5 tornado decimated much of the property. The Missouri Association of School Librarians put out a call to all districts, which then recruited volunteers and were assigned a day to work.
"As soon as we all saw it collectively, we said 'okay. We can do that. We know how to do that,'" Cramer said of the request.
The librarians processed and sorted through mountains of books that reached halfway up the school's paneled walls. Looking back, they realized how lucky they are.
They questioned the process of picking up the pieces should the disaster had happened in Marshall -- how and where to hold classes if the schools were suddenly taken away.
"Librarians there are so resilient," Chase stated. "They lost some of their students."
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