By Erin Spry
Christmas came a bit early this year for La Jolla Elementary School.
An anonymous La Jollan recently made the offer to donate $100,000 to the school library fund if other donations could match or exceed it.
“I think it’s amazing,” said school Principal Donna Tripi. “I’m so grateful. I just hope we can get a match.”
Tripi said the school was astonished with the offer. They’ll receive the money when other donations match it, and she said they are eager to get the word out and make it happen.
“This is an amazing, generous person who knows the value of a library for the kids,” said Tripi.
The donor is unknown to all but one person at the school, but it’s someone who believes libraries are vital to schools and society.
“A library is a place where one can study, research, explore,” said the donor. “There is no substitute for books, the tactile senses of the printed page, the adventure of leaping through words, thoughts and imaginative feelings that may have been recorded centuries ago.”
La Jolla Elementary has been working for a long time to get a new library. Mary Anne Pye, chair of the library fund, has been heading the effort.
“When my son started at school, there was no library,” said Pye. “The library collection was outdated books on old shelves in the cafeteria. It was horrible.”
Tripi said the library, which is now in an old kindergarten classroom, has gotten better in recent years. Yet, she said, it isn’t up to standards of what a school should offer to the 500 students at La Jolla Elementary.
“We don’t have near what we need in books, but we’re getting closer,” she said. “It’s supposed to be 15 to 20 books per student. We only have half that.”
Tripi said libraries are an integral part of a child’s schooling and development. “A strong library makes a strong school. It’s the hub of literacy.”
Suzanne Robertson, president of the PTA, said this donation is a breath of fresh air in a time where school budgets in San Diego have been providing the bare minimum.
“This will be wonderful because of all the budget cuts. The public schools are taking a pretty hard hit,” said Robertson. “This donation will be pretty great for the school library and the kids.”
La Jolla Elementary has been improving because of renovations and repairs made possible by Proposition MM. That measure, passed in July of 1998 by the Board of Education, was created to build new schools and improve existing ones. It is because of this that La Jolla Elementary has been given a brand new building, which will become the school’s new library.
“It’s the first new building at the school in 40 years,” said Pye.
Pye has spent the past two years focusing on the library committee, and is dedicated to making this new building great. Proposition MM gave them the place, yet it’s up to the school to put everything in it.
Tripi said the money they bring in will be used to buy furniture, books and computers, and what’s left over will be put in a savings account. She said they’re hoping to have enough money to use the interest it gains to pay the librarian salaries and continually upkeep of the library.
To contribute, send donations for the library fund to La Jolla Elementary at 1111 Marine St.