St Brigid’s overwhelmed by generosity after fire

St Brigid's Marrickville students receive donated books after fire wrecked their school libary.

Book appreciation: St Brigid’s Catholic Primary Marrickville students (from left) Landon O’Brien, school captains Stephanie Maroun and Evan Koutzoumis, and Thomas Skinner. The school received copious book donations after fire destroyed its library on January 20.

St Brigid’s Catholic Primary Marrickville has received  book-loads of support to help resurrect its library after the space was gutted by fire.

Catholic, government, and independent schools, publishers, and community members have all volunteered books to help replace the 24,000 that were lost in the blaze on January 20.

St Charles’ Catholic Primary Ryde, Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Primary Kingsgrove, Christian Brothers’ High School Lewisham, International Grammar School Ultimo, Marrickville Primary School and Newington College Stanmore are among the schools to offer resources.

Marrickville Library and History gave a 400 book bulk loan to students on February 10.

Dymock’s Children’s Charities also delivered $1000 of new books, and All Barcodes Australia provided 3,000 free barcodes. Walker Books, HarperCollins Children’s Books and RIC Publications have also been generous.

Teacher librarian Catherine Rigg said it would take about two terms to rebuild the library. She has been heartened by the high quality donations and support of volunteers to get the new books ready for borrowing.

“We’re humbled,” she said. “I think it shows the value of books and of libraries too, because the idea that a library would burn and books be destroyed really tugs at people’s emotions.

“The library was the heart of our school. It was a peaceful, joyful place. I’ve had children, even in Year 6 running up to me in the playground and saying ‘Look Mrs Rigg I have my library bag today.’ They ‘ve had that culture of thinking it was important to borrow books and to read.”

It’s really nice that everyone has been donating and very helpful on our journey.

– Stephanie Maroun, 11

Despite the challenges of starting the new school year without access to internet and library books, the school has chosen to dwell on the positives.

“The teachers have been amazing,” Mrs Rigg said. “Normally if you don’t have the internet you could use books. We’ve really had to be innovative and find ways around beginning their programs. And I’ve been telling the students all of the blessings – that nobody was hurt, that firefighters were able to save the rest of the school, and people are being very generous and helping us.

“Resilience is an important thing. We’re going to have a new library and new books, and I want to keep the enthusiasm.”

St Brigid's 3

St Brigid’s students take a delivery of books from Marrickville Library and History.

School captains Evan Koutzoumis and Stephanie Maroun are both avid readers. Stephanie enjoys comedy adventures and Evan science fiction and comedy. Roald Dahl’s works are a shared favourite.

“It’s really generous of people who are even not in our area for them to give us books to use and very caring,” Evan said.

“Our story has been on the news and on the radio and everywhere,” Stephanie said.

“We are a strong community – we have lived without internet for a week – but we still know what is important. It’s important that no one got injured and that it didn’t affect the classrooms.

“It’s really nice that everyone has been donating and very helpful on our journey. I just want to say thank you because at least we have books now and we can still read.”

One of the only items saved from the library was a ‘Hedwig’ owl statue given by the Year 6 class of 2012 to remember one of their classmates who died after an asthma attack.

The idea that a library would burn and books be destroyed really tugs at people’s emotions.

– Catherine Rigg

Principal Lyn Sandford said the school also received letters written by Year 7 students at St Brigid’s Catholic College Lake Munmorah on their first day of high school to wish their namesake’s community well after the fire.

“We have had such a display of support and generosity from people,” Mrs Sandford said.

“It’s just lovely to be a recipient of that and know how much people value libraries and the joy that they do bring. All of the children’s readers at the end of the year  are returned to the library to go through an inventory, so everything was gone.

“We’re just amazed by people’s generosity and can’t thank them enough.”




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