It's 10:30 in the morning, on a bookwagon day. I'm on break, so I duck out of class and make a quick phone call. I catch her on her cell, on the way out of one of the school libraries where she's been helping.
"Are you getting home again before bookwagon?"And that's kind of how it is. Every single day. Every single day we're talking and planning - and spending our own money and time - in order to meet a request from a child, an adult, a family, a neighbourhood organization. Sometimes we can, and sometimes we can't. But the ask is always there.
"Yeah. Probably. Why?"
"Can you remember to bring your copy of Ink Death? We need it for adultsname."
"Okay. And we need more Warriors. It doesn't have to be the graphic novel, but boysname came running out of the gym today to ask if we had any more, so I guess he really liked it."
"Okay. I'll check down at Coles [Books] at lunch to see if they have any."
"Alright, I'll bring Ink Death, and you'll bring a Warriors book."
"'Kay. See you tonight."
The German theologian Johann Baptist Metz once wrote the complaint that his peers favoured believing in justice over being just, favoured believing in love over loving, favoured believing in public service over serving. Then there was that other German thinker who complained, "philosophers have only interpreted the world... the point is to change it."
Which is why literacy workers often frustrate over the surfeit of money to be spent on the promotion of the idea of literacy and learning (conferences, webcasts, leaflets, campaigns), and the lack of money to help us provide concrete literacy and learning support.
I don't need more bookmarks and pencils to encourage people to become readers - readers I got.
I need a book budget. I need two new tires for the wagon.
I need cash.