When rent, food, and other pressing issues are a struggle, books can fall by the wayside in the family budget. is helping to fill that gap by distributing thousands of titles from a packed room in the Martin Center.
“The most important thing about why the book bank is here is to promote family literacy,” said Jean Scialabba, a volunteer with Whale’s Tales Book Bank.
The books are organized by reading level, from board books to picture books to chapter books. They cover fictional stories and non-fiction topics, with the goal of promoting recreational reading. No adult titles are included, but the books are appropriate through the high school level.
The Whale’s Tales Book Bank got its start in January of 2004, when the education coordinator of the Branford organization Read To Grow approached the library media center coordinator of . Read To Grow wanted to expand to the New London area, and the monthly focus groups of Youth Affairs became the place to distribute books.
In 2005, the Boats, Books and Brushes with Taste event was chosen as a place to for local book collection. The titles were originally stored in the , but in 2006 a grant from the helped the book bank get its own space. It is now located in the Martin Center, near the Youth Affairs office, with books sitting on shelving donated by Pfizer.
Tina Salcedo, the early education and literacy coordinator with Youth Affairs, says the bank is one of a number of community programs run by the organization. These include play groups and parenting groups, as well as literacy efforts such as a partnership with the offering tickets to performances for meeting reading goals.
“I think we’re a piece of the pie that helps,” said Salcedo.
The organization coordinates with schools, both to donate books to students and pick them up through student drives. Drop boxes for the bank are located in and , and Borders in Waterford formerly led an annual drive that donated thousands of books.
“Losing them is greatly going to affect us,” said Salcedo. “But I would say our traffic in here, in terms of people stopping by, has definitely increased.”
The book bank is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.