Local program helps rescue public school libraries

ByJovana Lara and Jose Mayorquin KABC logo
Sunday, August 26, 2018
Program offers lifeline to school libraries
Access books, a local non-profit, is working to bring more books to school libraries.

LOS ANGELES, CA (KABC) -- Every student's dream of a bright future begins with literacy. However, due to cuts in education, public schools are struggling to provide adequate libraries for its students. Access books, a local non-profit, is working to change that.

"Affluent and middle-class children have access to 400 times more books than children who live in under-served communities," said Dr. Rebecca Consantino, who has a Ph.D in language, literacy and learning. "In California, we do not provide for school libraries at the elementary level; not a penny. So you have the newest book being from 1968 or 1975. We have students who are very eager to read, who want to read, but they have nothing to read."

Instead of waiting for state funding to come, Dr. Constantino decided to take action. She founded Access Books, a volunteer-driven nonprofit which offers a lifeline to school libraries most in need.

"It started really out of my car. I started distributing books from one school to another and more people got interested," said Dr. Constantino. "Now we serve about 18,000 students a year. We have thousands of volunteers. We paint beautiful murals. We provide brand new hardcover books that we've bought at a huge discount and we provide each class with a classroom set of books."

Access Books is also committed to purchasing books that are popular and culturally-relevant.

"It's very important that child goes into a library and sees someone who looks like them and sees that their story and their culture is part of this world of literacy as well," said Dr. Constantino. "A lot of people question why don't they go to the public library and my question is 'why should they, when they come to school every single day?' We need books to be accessible to them and easily accessible. If we want children to read, we must provide a warm welcoming quality school library."

For more information on Access Books, visit https://www.accessbooks.net/