Two Moab businessmen have started a project to replace books that San Juan High School’s library lost in a recent fire.
Kerry Lange, owner of Desert West Office Supply, donated enough money to get the process rolling.
“When I heard that the San Juan High School library had burned, I knew immediately that Moab had to act quickly to get books back into students’ hands,” said Andy Nettell, owner of Back of Beyond Books in Moab. “One call to Kerry Lange at Desert West Office Supply provided funding to purchase all 131 books on their list.”
The fire, which authorities are investigating as a possible case of arson, occurred Saturday morning Nov. 17. Two men have been arrested for allegedly breaking into the building and setting it on fire, law enforcement authorities said.
Nettell explained that Lange sells toner products for printers and recycles all his empty toner cartridges. He matches dollar for dollar the money from those recycled cartridges, Nettell said, and that’s the funding source for the San Juan book replacement program.
There are ways community members can help, too. The high school has posted another wish list on www.Amazon.com and those who buy a book to donate can click on the list so the gift isn’t duplicated.
Those who don’t want to purchase online may view the list and purchase from other booksellers, going back to the Amazon list to again avoid duplication.
The school has insurance to cover loss of traditional education books, Nettell said. However, the fire also destroyed the library’s special collection of Native American books and the San Juan collection. Many of those books are out of print and will be difficult to replace.
While some of the titles are on the shelves of Back of Beyond Books, Nettell is using his connections in the book community to find rare and out of print editions.
“I have offered to track down any of the titles if I get contributions,” he said. One citizen already has donated $50.
Nettell said those who want to write a check to help purchase books are welcome to do so at Back of Beyond Books. He has compiled a list of special collections books that were lost and has printed copies that people may pick up at the store, 83 N. Main St. in Moab.
“We will generate a receipt,” he said, adding that San Juan High School officials likely can provide information allowing the books to be claimed as tax deductions for a charitable donation.
As money comes in and books are purchased, Nettell said, store personnel will load them up, drive them to Blanding and deliver them to the high school.
“That’s going to be the fun,” Nettell said during an interview.
The Moab Area Chamber of Commerce also is getting involved by suggesting its members help replace some of the lost books, executive director Kammy Wells said.
Nettell pointed out that the San Juan fire isn’t the first time Lange has shown his generosity. He has contributed heavily to the Christmas season Books for Tots program over the years, with the gifts worth thousands of dollars, according to Nettell.
“He is very generous,” Nettell said.
Although Grand County High School and San Juan High School are rivals on the athletic field, the fire has brought both communities closer together. Grand County students have also launched fundraising drives to help San Juan.
“It’s a great way for the two counties to work together,” Nettell said. “Everything I’ve heard has been generous and beautiful as far as how the counties are working together.”