‘A school without books’: Clark’s Harbour classes lose library to mould

Amy Woolvett
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A leak led to a big loss.

Clark’s Harbour Elementary had a leak in its school library last fall, but the full impact of the devastation wasn’t immediately understood.

A Strum Consulting report to the Tri-County Regional School Board showed a potentially- harmful mould problem. All of the library’s books needed to be thrown out.

“We lost our entire collection,” said school principal Lesley Smith.  “We are a school without books.”

She said it was a heartbreaking moment for teachers, parents and, especially, for the students.

The loss of books in the school has led to kids missing out on the joy of getting lost in a book, of learning about their favourite animal and of seeing what antics a much-loved character has gotten into next.

But, out of the loss, a story of a giving community spirit is being told.

Smith was tearful in a Feb. 2 interview as she recalled how she felt watching  boxes and boxes of books leaving the school.

“I started to realize when the books were boxed up and moved out that they were not coming back,” she said. 

But book-by-book, new books are beginning to line the library’s shelves once again.


Kindness stocks shelves


At Christmas, the first of the donations began to come in.

A fundraiser through a parent -led committee raised $2,000 in books.

By the beginning of 2016, a student and a parent decided to forgo gifts for their birthdays and asked instead for books to be donated to the library collection.

The Western Regional Library donated extra copies it had in circulation.

Now, people are beginning to “pay it forward” to the school in the name of Carmen Huskilson, a five-year-old girl whose death has sparked a movement throughout the community and country.

“That is such a beautiful story in itself,” Smith said.  “To be on the receiving end of that…it’s magical.  To have such a heartbreak turn around to be a complete blessing.”

I started to realize when the books were boxed up and moved out that they were not coming back. Lesley Smith

Suddenly, the library is starting to see a change.

“We’ve gone (from) no books, to suddenly having books on the shelves,” said Smith.

There are still shelves to fill. More than $4,000 worth of books were destroyed and the school is looking for brand new books from the community to replace the collection.

 “We want books that captivate kids,” said Smith.

She said a committee is working hard on an up-to-date document of all the books they have and all the books still needed.

“We call it our wish list,” she said.

The students in the school took part in creating that list, hoping their favourites would be a part of the collection.

Smith said she hopes the list will be up by Feb. 8 and will be continuously updated as books are brought in, so that purchases are not duplicated.

Looking ahead

Smith said moisture issue has been rectified so that a similar flood won’t happen again.  The leak was fixed and a ventilation system installed.

“It was tested and retested and cleaned,” she said.

The original mould screening report can be found on the school board’s website.  

“Our focus now is not on what we lost, but on the rebuild,” said Smith.

Anyone wishing to donate can contact the school at (902)745-3710 or go to http://sharepoint.tcrsb.ca/csich/default.aspx for more information.

Organizations: Strum Consulting, Tri-County Regional School Board, Western Regional Library

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