I was lucky. Growing up, two local libraries that were just a short drive away. But not all kids have access to that many books.
In recent years, the town of Wellington in Carbon County, Utah has had a tight budget. Coal revenues have been falling, so the county commission has had to scramble to find enough money to continue operating local government services. In order to balance finances, the county commission voted to cut funding for the bookmobile and other programs. If this budget was implemented, the people of Wellington would have had their chances to find and read new books drastically cut.
This horrified one local book lover, 10-year-old October Hamilton, who leapt into action.
“We don’t have a library,” October told KSL reporters. “And the bookmobile is the only book source we have.” For her, seeing the bookmobile come to town on Wednesdays was “practically like Christmas.”
October began a petition to save the bookmobile. By canvasing the town and surrounding areas, she gathered nearly 1,000 signatures in support. Considering the town of Wellington itself only has a population of around 1,600, this was no small feat. (Though the bookmobile ultimately serves nearly 20,000 people in total.)
October then presented her petition at a county commission meeting. “I just wanted to tell you guys that the Bookmobile is something that we need,” she said.
The commission members were impressed by how committed people were to saving access to books and ultimately voted to reinstate reduced funding for the bookmobile.
“What she[October] has done in the community with her petition has probably done more to raise attention for literacy than anything any local politician could have done,” said Carbon County Commission chair Jake Mellor.
Seeing October’s success is deeply satisfying. It means that at least on a local level, people’s engagement does make a difference. Today I am raising my coffee cup in October’s honor.
Congratulations, October. You were exactly the person the bookmobile of Wellington needed.