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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Library cards a new offering at Christmas Bureau

Treva Lind treval@spokesman.com, (509) 459-5423

A child’s first library card can launch the gift of lifelong reading.

At this year’s Christmas Bureau, librarians plan for the first time to offer on-site issuing of library cards for both the Spokane Public Library and Spokane County Library District.

Sometimes, a gateway to learning and reading can mean even more at Christmas. Spokane County Library supervisor Pat Davis recalls a few years ago helping a father who walked into the Spokane Valley branch because he wanted to add one more gift for his child.

“He was out of work, and Christmas was going to be pretty sparse,” Davis recalled. “He wanted something else to give, so he came in to get a library card.”

She’s helped others with the same request. “On occasion, I’ve had people come in December to get their child a library card so they had one more thing to give them. I used to work at the Spokane Valley Library, and that happened more than once.”

Davis, who now works at the Argonne branch of the county library district, said librarians expect to have an area set up with computers at the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center so that families who come for the Christmas Bureau can quickly obtain library cards. The Christmas Bureau is open Dec. 10-19, except for Dec. 13.

Now in its 70th year, the Christmas Bureau provides toys, books and $15 to $30 food vouchers for needy families.

Last year, county librarians were at the bureau only to provide information, Davis said. She received the go-ahead to offer cards this year from bureau organizers, who saw it as a way to help parents and children who haven’t yet tapped into free library services.

“Beyond books, the parents can get computer training” at the library, Davis said. “We have a lot of different digital resources, educational services and resume software. Of course, we have the books, DVDs and music.”

But at its heart, “This is a way to encourage reading all year long,” she said. “Books can be expensive, and coming into the library is a way for people to have a wide range of material.”

Spokane Public Library Foundation spokeswoman Sarah Bain said city librarians plan to give away 10,000 flying discs with the library logo to the first 10,000 families who visit their table.

“We will be waiving overdue fines up to $74.99 on customer library cards,” Bain said. The waiver can’t be applied for lost materials or collection fees, she said.

Books always are an integral part of the Christmas Bureau. Last year, 15,783 children received free books and toys. More than 9,000 households received grocery vouchers.

Organized by Catholic Charities, Volunteers of America and The Spokesman-Review, the bureau is made possible because of the support of generous donors, with any amount appreciated. Donations and notes are reported in daily stories after they’ve been processed.

With a goal to reach $525,000, some donations received so far for the year include:

Inland Northwest Community Foundation, of Spokane, gave $5,000.

Clarence Colby Memorial Fund, of Spokane, donated $1,891.53.

Michael Gadd, of Spokane, gave $1,000.

Inland Northwest Community Foundation, of Spokane, gave an additional $250 as directed by a donor.

Adina Eichorst, of Spokane, donated $200.

Michael and Josephine Dix, of Spokane, gave $200, writing, “Thank you volunteers and organizers for helping the less fortunate at Christmas time.”

William and Nancy Henry, of Spokane, gave a $100 donation in memory of Daniel Sullivan.

C. Peggy Gazette Charitable Fund, of Spokane, gave $100 with the note, “This grant is made possible by the generosity of Cleo Gazette.”

Marie Lindquist, of Spokane, gave $100.

Nancy Mahoney, of Spokane Valley, donated $100.

Rich Hadley, of Spokane, gave $100 via PayPal.

Judith Horton, of Coeur d’Alene, gave $50 designated for the book room.

Richard and Danette Schroer, of Spokane, gave $50.

William Morse gave $50 via PayPal.

Rebecca Kramer, of Coeur d’Alene, gave $40, “in memory of my sister-in-law, Jean Reeves Kramer, a former Peace Corps volunteer, avid reader and piano and accordion player.”

Florence Michaud, of Spokane, gave $25. “This check is in memory of Daniel P. Sullivan, a wonderful and good man.”

Eric and Kathy Kelly, of Spokane, gave $25. “We’d like to donate to the S-R Christmas Fund in the name of Megan Brinson, who was our daughter Lindsey’s kindergarten teacher. What a wonderful start Megan gave our child for her 17 years of schooling (UW grad), and what a fine person she was. We were sorry to hear of her passing last fall.”

BNSF Railway employee James Portz, of Haslet, Texas, gave $10 via the BNSF Railway and BNSF Railway RailPAC.

Note: For donations made through PayPal, The Spokesman-Review contributed the PayPal processing fee.

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