Ferguson public library receives flood of donations after rioting

Ferguson Mon. Nov. 24
Police officers block West Florissant Avenue as a building burns in the background after a grand jury decision in Ferguson, Mo.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

The Ferguson Municipal Public Library has been flooded with donations since Monday night’s rioting, librarian Scott Bonner told the L.A. Times. “We were surprised,” he said by phone Tuesday.

Although schools in the town of Ferguson, Mo., were shut after destruction  followed news that a grand jury would not indict police Officer Darren Wilson in the killing of Michael Brown, the library stayed open Tuesday.

In the first 20 hours since the grand jury announcement, close to 3,000 people have donated to the library online. While Bonner isn’t ready to release exact numbers, he confirms that donations are five figures -- tens of thousands of dollars.

It’s a huge leap from the donations it has received since it first posted the donate button on its website in August. Set up with the help of a California techie who heard about the library’s work this summer, the button allows donations to be made to the public libary via PayPal. Before Monday, just a few thousand dollars had arrived that way.


After Monday’s announcement, the idea of donating to the Ferguson library spread through the literary side of Twitter. “I just donated to @fergusonlibrary (open today, schools are closed). Make one good thing happen today,” wrote Celeste Ng, author of the novel “Everything I Never Told You,” Amazon’s choice for best book of 2014. Ashley Ford (@iSmashFizzle) of Buzzfeed news tweeted “There are many ways to show support to ... Ferguson. My way is to donate to their library,” then supportively retweeted many of those who followed suit. 

The library first stayed open when schools and businesses closed in August because of protests sparked by the shooting death of Brown. Then, Bonner said, “We did what we did today -- invited teachers and students to come in.” Students with no place to go came to the library to read and join in activities; some teachers even held classes there.

The donations the library has received will go to build more community programming, Bonner told Newsweek, as well as make improvements to the library that are “way, way, way overdue.”

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