[KHTS] – London, a small Central California town with about 2,100 residents, is 166 miles from the Santa Clarita Valley.
But Robert Isquierdo, a London native and now English teacher at Sierra Vista Junior High School, said that London is a huge fan of “Awesometown,” and not just because of Magic Mountain.
It’s all because of Isquierdo’s new project, an effort to give his hometown something it never had when he was growing up–a library.
The Library for London project seeks to provide residents with access to free education right in their neighborhood.
London has no schools, and students have to be bussed out to the neighboring city of Dinuba, but Isquierdo said that some students don’t have the resources to visit the Dinuba Branch Library during their free time.
Isquierdo started his campaign in February. Through seven book drives in the Santa Clarita Valley and another in the Fresno area, the London Library Project gathered more than 7,000 books, audiobooks and DVDs.
“Santa Clarita has kind of taken this project on their back and carried it to where it is now,” Isquierdo said. “Local librarians, local teachers, local authors, local community organizations have all participated and stepped in, without even knowing where London is.”
Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge also donated 20 gently used laptop and desktop computers.
The next urgent need for the project is a place to house all the materials donated since February. The Dinuba Unified School District has offered Isquierdo a portable building, but he will need to pay to have it transported to London, which could cost between $10,000 and $15,000.
Under the umbrella nonprofit Tulare County Library Foundation, Isquierdo is accepting tax deductible donations.
So far, he has only raised about $500 towards moving the portable building but needs to have the money by June 2, or the building will be demolished to make way for construction.
If everything goes according to plan, Isquierdo hopes to open the new London Library by August.
If he loses the portable building, it could delay the project another year, he said.
In the meantime, Isquierdo is still looking for material donations, specifically Spanish-language books, audiobooks and DVDs.
Donations can be dropped off at Sierra Vista Junior High or Isquierdo’s house, at 19983 Emerald Creek Drive in Canyon Country.
Checks should be made out to the “Tulare County Library Foundation” with “Library for London” in the memo line.
Isquierdo has realized “just how many generous and good people we have in the Santa Clarita Valley and in the Central Valley…” he said. “I’m humbled and grateful to belong to such a generous city.”
For more information about the project and how to participate,click here.