A Book Apart

Meet Lívia Labate, Giver of Books

Jul 02, 2018

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Last month–in light of what’s happening at the US border–we announced we’d donate 25% of profits over two days to RAICES. We were thrilled at the response and particularly moved by one person’s action. Designer Lívia Labate supported our effort by offering to buy books for students, unemployed professionals, and anyone else who needed them. 

We chatted with her briefly to find out more about what motivated her and just how many books she bought. 

ABA: What do you do and where do you do it?

Lívia Labate: I design digital products. Recently, I’ve been doing that in the context of news with Spirited Media, working to make local journalism sustainable with the stellar editorial teams at The Incline, Billy Penn, and Denverite.

ABA: What prompted you to offer books to folks who might need them?

LL: As I watched the reports about the horrendous abuses asylum seekers are facing at the border, especially having their families being torn apart with no prospect of reunification, I felt really helpless and scared. I looked for ways to help, researched organizations supporting kids in those circumstances, made some donations and tried to amplify the relevant actions on Twitter.

Also, I love books. I am always ranting about books. I start libraries at the places I work. I particularly appreciate good professional books because it is what allowed me to have the career I have today.

When I saw you were giving 25% of A Book Apart profits to RAICES Texas I thought how great it would be if people really participated and got to help those families AND enjoyed some great books!

And then I remembered that when you are strapped for cash, rent and dinner usually win over buying books or donating to a worthy cause. So I thought, if I can get some people the books they need we can make both things happen! I messaged [ABA CEO, Katel LeDû] about doing this immediately after.

ABA: Who requested them? Were they mainly students? 

LL: I did not request any personally identifying information beyond name and email and made no effort to verify if people fit the original criteria for my call for participation (if you want and need a book so much that you asked, you should just get a book!).

That said, several people responded to my email with comments and lovely thank you messages telling me about how useful the book was for them and their context so I got a sense that the majority of folks were students (college and graduate) and maybe a quarter of participants were from outside the United States.

ABA: How many books did you end up buying?

LL: 52 ebooks. About half of the people requested between one and two books so to try and satisfy most people, everyone got two ebooks.

ABA: Which titles were popular?

LL: The requests were so varied! People requested 29 different books across the A Book Apart catalog; some requested a single title and others seemed to really be trying to fill up their bookshelves.

Overall, The New CSS Layout had the greatest demand, which, along with Get Ready for CSS Grid Layout made Rachel Andrew the most popular author. I can’t say I’m surprised, Rachel Andrew is a fantastic teacher and I eat up everything she writes.

Erika Hall’s Conversational Design, Rachel Nabors’s Animation at Work, and Chris Coyier’s Practical SVG were the other top requests. Erika’s book is next on my reading pile!

ABA: You are such an amazing supporter of ABA—and you inspire us! What/who inspires you these days?

LL: A Book Apart makes such great books. I appreciate the topics’ timeliness, thoughtful editing and fantastic book design. I love reading them and giving them to people; please keep up the awesome!

There is a lot of bad stuff happening all around us and the rate at which it all seems to continue to devolve can feel overwhelming. As an LGBTQIA immigrant living in the United States I am horrified.

Among all that, I see people pushing forward and defending the defenseless. The people of Puerto Rico trying to rebuild with barely any support, the people of Flint thriving despite lacking basic clean water, the children leading a national campaign against guns and the indecency of the NRA, the people volunteering legal aid at the border supporting asylum seekers against the human rights abuses they are facing, the people in cities across America fighting off and blocking ICE’s fascist practices. And everyone who is punching Nazis—physically or in principle. These folks keep me inspired and motivated.

ABA: Anything else you’d like to tell us or for our readers to know?

LL: Get a library card.

I am continually shocked that most people I meet in my professional life do not have library cards–who think of libraries as a phase in college, or something you did as a kid. Using your public library is a civic privilege. Public libraries have wonderful, vast, well organized, current, and extremely accessible catalogs. You already pay for every book there through your taxes. Why are you not enjoying this awesome perk? Get a library card.

We're so grateful to be a part of this wonderful community and for the opportunity to do our small part to help. Huge thank you to Lívia and everyone who bought books to help us support RAICES