James Patterson Gives $1.25 Million To Libraries

by Emma Cueto

One of the country's most well-known thriller writers has been in quite the giving mood lately. In his latest act of generosity, James Patterson will be donating $1.25 million to school libraries around the country. Which means more books for more kids, which can only be good news!

Just a few months after he finished handing out more than $1 million to support independent bookstores, Patterson has partnered up with Scholastic to provide money to school libraries in need. Patterson will be providing donations ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 to individual libraries; Scholastic Reading Cub has pledged to match every dollar he donates. Any library in the U.S. serving students from pre-K through 12th grade is eligible, and anyone can nominate a school library to receive a donation — teachers, librarians, administrators, even people from the community.

This is not a difficult approval process,” Patterson said. “Applicants just have to state what they would do with the money in 200-300 words. What could be easier? I try not to be arrogant in the sense that I know what’s good for everybody else: I simply ask the question: ‘How can I help?’” He also says that the smaller donation size is meant to ensure help goes out to as many libraries as possible.

Libraries in America today face plenty of problems, including major budget cuts. The American Library Association said in their 2014 report that, “school libraries continue to feel the combined pressures of recession-driven financial tightening and federal neglect.” And it's forcing many to limit the services they provide or be eliminated all together. This in spite of the fact that libraries might be more important than ever in the Internet age, given their ability to provide context for information. As Neil Gaiman once said, “Google can bring you back 100,000 answers. A librarian can bring you back the right one.”

So will Patterson's contributions make a difference for libraries in the long run? It's hard to say, although all the librarians I've known have been plenty resourceful; I'd be willing to bet they know how to make a donation go far. But no matter how it turns out, it's certainly very cool to see an author making such a dedicated investment to the future of books and reading by supporting library services for kids like this.

Three cheers!