Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Case Study No. 0457: RoseAleta Laurell

up on the roof 2.mpg
A fund raising effort in Lockhart, Texas raises over $40,000 for the Dr. Eugene Clark Library.
Tags: RoseAleta Laurell Lockhart Texas Dr. Eugene Clark Library Librarian on the Roof Loony Librarian fund raising
Added: 1 year ago
From: Rlaurell
Views: 96

["10-16-00 KENS-TV 6 PM, NBC - San Antonio, TX" appears on screen, then cut to male reporter speaking directly to the camera]
CHRIS MARROU: There are all sorts of ways for a small town to raise money for a good cause. A car wash, a bake sale, maybe a church raffle ... but what one woman is doing in the city of Lockhart has a lotta people thinking she's strange. Bridget Smith reports.
[cut to several people standing around a busy city street, as "Librarian Lingers for Loot, Eyewitness News KENS5" appears on screen]
BRIDGET SMITH: [from off camera] The town has gone crazy ...
WOMAN 1: [from off camera] Oh, it is!
BRIDGET SMITH: [from off camera] Everybody in Lockhart knows who she is.
WOMAN 2: Yes, everyone knows who she is.
[cut to a woman sitting in a car]
WOMAN 3: Oh god, look at her!
[cut to Bridget interviewing more people]
WOMAN 4: There's nothing this woman won't do.
[cut back to the woman in the car]
WOMAN 3: I'm worried about her sanity ...
[cut to another woman being interviewed]
WOMAN 1: She is not your typical fifty-year-old ...
[cut to more women being interviewed]
WOMAN 4: She's crazy!
WOMAN 5: Yeah!
[cut to more footage of the on-lookers]
BRIDGET SMITH: [in voice over] Lockhart Texas is the kind of place where townsfolk support one another, where neighbors meet on the corner, and occasionally someone gets the idea to sit on a roof in a hot pink suit.
[cut to footage of RoseAleta (wearing glasses and a hardhat) sitting on the roof of the library]
WOMAN 1: [from off camera] When she was willin' to do it, we were willin' to back her up!
BRIDGET SMITH: [in voice over] RoseAleta Laurell is the city's librarian, and she'll be booked for the next couple of days ... that is, until she raises money for the town's main library.
[cut back to Bridget interviewing people on the street]
WOMAN 2: She will do that. She will stay up there 'til she get that twenty thousand dollars!
[cut to Bridget dialing on her cellphone]
BRIDGET SMITH: [in voice over] And who knew we'd need a cellphone for ... this kind of emergency?
[cut to a wide angle shot of Bridget talking into her cellphone, as RoseAleta can be seen on the roof talking into her phone]
BRIDGET SMITH: I've never done an interview like this before!
ROSEALETA LAURELL: I know, this is very awkward!
BRIDGET SMITH: [in voice over] I could tell that RoseAleta was well-adjusted to life at the top ...
[cut to a closeup of RoseAleta as she speaks into her phone]
ROSEALETA LAURELL: It seemed a great way to draw attention to the fact that we still need money ...
[cut back to Bridget interviewing onlookers]
WOMAN 1: She is, uh ... "pampered" is a pretty good word for it.
[cut back to Bridget interviewing RoseAleta on her phone]
BRIDGET SMITH: Now, I heard you have a few luxury items up there ...
[she laughs]
ROSEALETA LAURELL: I have my laptop ... and I have two cellphones, and--
BRIDGET SMITH: Hey, I tell you what ... I'll email ya later!
ROSEALETA LAURELL: Okay, lemmee give you my email address!
[cut back to Bridget interviewing onlookers]
WOMAN 1: Lotsa people think she's gonna come down and eat, or sleep ... She's not!
[cut back to Bridget interviewing RoseAleta on her phone]
BRIDGET SMITH: Did you pick those earrings out to go with that particular hardhat?
ROSEALETA LAURELL: Well, I wear earrings like this all the time, so it was only fitting ... I mean, this isn't like a costume!
[she laughs]
ROSEALETA LAURELL: Does that make sense?
[cut back to Bridget interviewing onlookers]
WOMAN 1: She won't be down, I assure you!
[cut back to Bridget interviewing RoseAleta on her phone]
BRIDGET SMITH: The construction workers are waving to you down here ...
BRIDGET SMITH: [in voice over] And even though she longs and lingers for the loot ...
ROSEALETA LAURELL: You need to come on up, I wish we could!
BRIDGET SMITH: Y-you want me to come up there?
ROSEALETA LAURELL: I-I don't think that can be arranged, I'd love for you to come up!
BRIDGET SMITH: No, no, and I'm sorry that it can't be arranged ...
[they both laugh, then cut back to the woman in the car]
WOMAN 3: I want her down, I don't want her left up there!
[cut back to Bridget interviewing RoseAleta on her phone]
BRIDGET SMITH: How soon do you hope they raise this money?
ROSEALETA LAURELL: Soon! Soon, honey, soon!
[she laughs, then cut to another angle of RoseAleta on the roof (highlighting a "Wave to the Loonney Librarian up on the roof" sign in the corner]
ROSEALETA LAURELL: I'm no young woman, I don't have a lotta time to waste in my life!
BRIDGET SMITH: [in voice over] Bridget Smith, KENS5. Eyewitness News.


["10-16-00 KABB-TV 9 PM, FOX - San Antonio, TX" appears on screen, then cut to the FOX 29 logo]
ANNOUNCER: You're watching FOX News at Nine!
[cut to the female city manager speaking directly to the camera]
CLOVIA ENGLISH: RoseAleta, she will do anything for her library, and I think that's commendable.
[cut to footage of RoseAleta on the roof]
LU PARKER: [in voice over] And we mean anything, and believe us ... you'll believe us after today.
[cut to a female reporter standing in front of a "Looney Librarian" graphic, speaking directly to the camera]
LU PARKER: Folks in Lockhart Texas call her "The Looney Librarian," and this time she's living up to her name. RoseAleta Laurell agreed to lend her time to raise money for a one-hundred-year library in that town, but wait til you see what she's doing.
[cut to footage of RoseAleta being lifted up onto the roof, as a crowd gathers to watch]
LU PARKER: [in voice over] It's a bird! It's a plane! It's the Looney Librarian, RoseAleta Laurell, and earlier today RoseAleta invited us to watch as she did something most librarians only talk about.
[cut to RoseAleta (on the ground) speaking directly to the camera]
ROSEALETA LAURELL: So it was my idea from the get-go ...
[cut to more footage of RoseAleta preparing to be lifted up to the roof]
LU PARKER: [in voice over] The idea was for RoseAleta to tell her friends and family on the ground goodbye.
[she waves to the assembled crowd]
ROSEALETA LAURELL: Bye, guys! Desiree, I'll see you up top!
LU PARKER: [in voice over] And to ascend to the top of this one-hundred-year old library.
[cut back to the city manager speaking directly to the camera]
CLOVIA ENGLISH: I call RoseAleta my little bundle of energy, she's always ready to do whatever it takes to get the job done.
[cut to more footage of the exterior of the library]
LU PARKER: [in voice over] The Doctor Eugene Clark Library is under construction, and twenty thousand dollars is still needed. RoseAleta plans to sit it out til the money comes in.
[cut to footage of volunteers collecting money from passing cars, then back to RoseAleta speaking directly to the camera]
ROSEALETA LAURELL: We're gonna have fun with this! I've got a sound system up there, I've got water balloons, I've got a slingshot ... We're gonna have fun with this!
[cut back to the city manager speaking directly to the camera]
CLOVIA ENGLISH: She has her laptop up there, so that she can have access to the internet and keep herself entertained in between entertaining the public.
[cut to a young girl ("Courtney Laurell, daughter") speaking directly to the camera]
COURTNEY LAURELL: I was surprised! I was like "Oh my goodness, what is she doing?" But then I thought about it for a little while, and it was like right up her alley.
[cut to more footage of people in cars donating money]
LU PARKER: [in voice over] And it looked like everyone played along. Folks were handing money over left and right, even dancing in the street.
[cut to footage of people in the crowd dancing to the music, then back to the daughter speaking directly to the camera]
COURTNEY LAURELL: It made me so happy that she's doing something like this, and she's doing something for the community.
[cut back to RoseAleta speaking directly to the camera]
LU PARKER: [in voice over] And RoseAleta's last words?
ROSEALETA LAURELL: Send your checks, your money orders, your cash ... and we take Visa and MasterCard!
[cut back to Lu Parker in studio]
LU PARKER: She's a handful! Well, the Looney Librarian says she will stay on the roof until she raises that twenty thousand dollars, and if you'd like to donate, you can call the hotline at 512-398-2960. Pretty cool!



Growing up on a North Carolina tobacco farm two miles from the nearest paved road, RoseAleta Laurell's routine childhood existence of sleeping, going to school and working did little to ease her increasing sense of isolation. It was the bookmobile that stopped on the blacktop that opened the world for the little girl and led to her career as a librarian. But no, not the stereotypical quiet librarian.

In 1989, Laurell arrived in Lockhart as director for the small Central Texas town's public library. Her gregarious personality and an unorthodox fundraising scheme became the stuff of legend, inspiring author M.G. King to pen a children's book—Librarian on the Roof! A True Story—about the self-described "lunatic librarian." In the book, King describes Laurell's arrival as "a clatter of heels on the floor and eyelashes as long as bird feathers."

Not surprisingly, the new librarian took Lockhart by storm in her determination to liven up the "quiet-please" library. The Dr. Eugene Clark Library, built in 1899, is the oldest continuously operating library in Texas. The two-story red brick building with limestone trim features classic revival architecture. It originally included a lyceum, or hall, making it the cultural center for the region. And the stage, illuminated by rays of light filtering through a central stained-glass window, was once graced by the presence of President William Howard Taft and opera soprano Dorothy Sarnoff.

By the time Laurell arrived, the venerable library was no longer the center of community life. It didn't reflect her philosophy: "Everyone should love coming to the library. The rich, the poor, the farmers, the townsfolk. We're here for grownups and for children." So her next question—"By the way, where ARE the children?"—led to the stunt that would make her a celebrity.

Laurell decided what the library really needed was a section just for children. She dreamed big. More picture books, mystery books, adventure books, child-size tables, comfortable chairs, colorful artwork and computers. She poured her energy into raising the $20,000 it would take to make her dream a reality.

She knew it would take more than bake sales to raise that kind of money. "I visited every single classroom in every single school in Lockhart to ask for their pennies, nickels and dimes," she says. But it wasn't enough.

So she concocted the seemingly ridiculous idea of residing on the library's roof for seven days and seven nights. With grit and determination, she decided to personally carry out her peculiar plan. In her cigarette smoking-induced raspy, contagious laugh, she remembers, "Well, it's not like it was something I could ask someone else to do!"

On Monday, October 16, 2000, the flamboyant Laurell - donning fluorescent pink rain gear, a gold hard hat, and, as she says, "enough jewelry to sink the Titanic" - stepped into the basket of a Lower Colorado River Authority bucket truck and was hoisted 50 feet high to her perch atop the library. Carrying only the essentials, including a tent, a laptop computer, two cellphones, a bullhorn and a slingshot to launch water balloons at the kids below, Laurell announced: "I will stay on this roof until we have raised enough money for our children's section."

Food was delivered in buckets by a pulley system. At night, Laurell hunkered down in a tent tethered to the rails around the domed roof, waiting for the next day's opportunity to create a spectacle for the scores of media and onlookers who showed up to witness her antics.

On Tuesday, a check for $10,000 arrived, but Thursday brought a different surprise. After an 18-month drought, wicked weather opened the skies of Caldwell County and drenched Laurell. Buffeted by great gusts of wind, and despite the threat of tornadoes, she remained on the roof. In her lyrical Southern twang, she remembers, "I thought for sure I had angered the weather gods, and they were trying to drive me off the roof! But then I decided it would just be much more fun to take credit for ending the drought."

By week's end, the proud librarian had exceeded her goal, raising nearly $40,000. Included in the donations were sacks of pennies, nickels and dimes from area schoolchildren, delivered from the back of an old pickup truck in the midst of fanfare.

Today, the children's area that Laurell so desperately fought to create is a reality. Best of all, King writes, you will always find crowds of children who love to read and learn inside these historic walls.

Laurell's work and studies eventually took her away from Lockhart. She is now director for the Bell/Whittington Library in the Texas coastal town of Portland. She believes that libraries are taking on a new role as resource centers for navigating life. For example, she says, some people need to know how to fill out their Social Security forms. Others need information about how to raise pigs and goats and chickens. Others need Internet access.

"Libraries are really not where you find the wealthy," Laurell says. "The people we make the real difference for are the people who are struggling in this complicated, technically driven, high-powered, fast-moving world."

Laurell, 63, is working toward a Certificate of Advanced Studies with an emphasis on small, rural libraries from the University of North Texas. Her goal is to obtain a doctorate degree, focusing on service to rural communities.

Laurell describes herself as a "flamboyant character who has been called everything from an embarrassment to a constant source of humor" - traits that make the book written about her a delightful read. King's book, published in 2010 by Albert Whitman & Company and illustrated by cartoonist Stephen Gilpin, represented Texas on the 2010 National Book Festival's "52 Great Reads" list.

No comments:

Post a Comment