Posted inEducation

‘Free books really help’: Fort Worth Public Library fills classroom bookshelves

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Watch Tarrant County educators discuss Fill the Bag’s impact. (Matthew Sgroi | Fort Worth Report)

Arlington ISD teacher Lindsey Fahrni broke down in tears as she filled a tote bag to the brim with free books at the Central Library in downtown Fort Worth. 

This was the first time she’s had the opportunity to provide materials for her second-graders at Farrell Elementary. She filled her class bookshelves because of the Fort Worth Public Library’s Fill the Bag event between Feb. 25-26. Educators from across Tarrant County selected books, DVDs, CDs, and other classroom materials — for free. 

“We struggle with being able to supply our passion with what we need and free books really help,” Fahrni said, wiping away another tear.

The Fill the Bag event, approved by Fort Worth City Council last November, offered educators non-circulating and surplus items in good condition. 

Kathryn King, Fort Worth’s Central Library collection development manager, said she hoped the event enhanced the community and fostered education growth across Tarrant County. 

“We know that having books make readers, and we know readers make successful adults,” King said. “It’s not just about making sure students come to the library. It’s about making sure they have access to those materials, and schoolteachers are the best way to do that.”

The Fort Worth Public Library has standards for keeping books on the shelves. The thousands of books made available to educators either hadn’t been checked out in more than a year or were copies of books already in circulation, King said. 

Fort Worth Public Library officials thought this event would be the best way to get rid of the surplus of children’s books.

“We decided with the children’s material, one of the best ways to benefit the community is to give back to those schoolteachers because we know that they struggle purchasing materials,” King said.

Fahrni, the Arlington ISD teacher, was a prime example. Fahrni needed books for her classroom, she said. Without this event, she wouldn’t know how to provide for her students.

“Books are expensive,” Fahrni said, holding back more tears. “Books are extremely expensive.”

Christina Bosco, a behavior specialist for Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD, also took advantage. Her position is new and resources are limited, and child behavioral books are expensive and hard to come by, she said. 

“I found a bunch of books about disrespect or lying and being able to have those to connect to my lessons is really powerful,” Bosco said.

Matthew Sgroi is a reporting fellow for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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