CRESTVIEW — A third of a ton of new books will substantially broaden Northwood Arts and Science Academy students' reading opportunities.
Northwood's is one of three libraries in the country to win this year's American Library Association Bookapalooza grant under the ALA's Association for Library Services to Children division.
Twenty-five cartons containing 1,000 or more books, audio books and DVDs, worth between $15,000 and $20,000, should arrive next week, Northwood media specialist Kristal Petruzzi said. The materials are new publishers' samples sent to the ALA for evaluation. They cover a range of fiction and non-fiction topics and the books have library bindings.
Petruzzi, who applied for upward of eight grants from various sources, said it took a moment for the news to sink in when she received a phone call from the ALA earlier this week.
"Oh my gosh, I cried when they told me; I was so excited," she said.
"The last time books were ordered before I came, I believe, was 2003," she said."Our average library book is 30 years old ... Some of our nonfiction books aren't even relevant anymore. Science and technology is constantly changing ... I am so over the moon about this."
In her grant application, Petruzzi said Northwood's library serves more than 25 percent minority students, more than 60 percent disadvantaged students and 50 percent free or reduced-lunch students.
“The committee is thrilled about the Bookapalooza materials finding their way into the hands of children who need reading materials,” Nancy Baumann, ALSC grant administration committee chairwoman, stated in a media release.
Other ALSC grant winners were the Talahi Community School in St. Cloud, Minn., and North Shelby Library children's department in Birmingham, Ala.
"The kids are going to flip," Petruzzi said. "It's going to be really a blessing. I'm so excited. It's probably going to take me three weeks to get all those books entered into our system."