This black box may not look brilliant to the casual observer, but believe me, it shines like the North Star for me. You see, this is a book locker, the first book locker in Michigan. It is the result of more than twenty years of desire, effort, and planning. I am a school librarian to a community that is isolated in many ways, even though we are inside a major city. The view from my school includes a transit depot and the smokestacks of the Ford Rouge Plant. Nearly 100% of the students at my school live below the poverty line and a majority do not have even one parent who can read English. The South End of Dearborn has long been the area where new immigrants land. The Italians, the Lebanese, the Iraqis and the Yemenis have all made this their community at different points in time. I am privileged to prepare their children to move up to the American Dream and they do move up!
When you do not have a parent who understands the system or speaks the language, something as simple as getting the books you need to complete your homework becomes very difficult. This is why the book locker is brilliant. After many years of attempts by myself and the director of the public library, the book locker will allow my students to have books from the public library, which is several miles away, delivered to them here at school. Getting books to students who need them should be a simple task in an American city with a good library system. Unfortunately, money is always the sticking point. While everyone has agreed for many years that something should be done, the plans always fell apart when the people who control the purse strings could not agree. Dearborn Public Library finally was able to secure a grant to cover the initial cost. Collaboration is finally coming to fruition and this marvelous machine is here. I am helping students to secure a public library card thanks to the collaboration that allows me to ferry forms and cards back and forth without the students or their parents going there in person. Kids and parents can get access to the materials they need. That is why collaboration is brilliant!