UNION CITY -- A Bay Area resident has donated $60,000 to James Logan High, allowing the school to reopen its library to students for all periods.

But there is one condition: The donor's identity must remain anonymous -- a request that the cash-strapped New Haven Unified School District was glad to honor.

State budget cuts forced the school board to slash the district's budget from $114 million in 2008-09 to $91 million in 2012-13, district spokesman Rick LaPlante said.

Among those cuts were library services, which were reduced to just one period per day at the start of the school year, LaPlante said.

As a result, Logan High's 4,100 students had virtually no direct access to the library or its books, school librarian Carla Colburn said.

But about two weeks after a Bay Area News Group article on the reduction, the donor contacted school principal Amy McNamara and offered to cut a check to aid the library.

"I was, in a word, overwhelmed," McNamara said. "The generosity of one individual will have a lasting effect on thousands of students."

The donor told school employees that libraries meant a lot to him while growing up and that it is time for him to give back when they are in need, Colburn said.

"I really believed that if people knew what was happening to our schools, they wouldn't let it happen," she said. "There are so many voices out there asking people to be bitter or suspicious, and this is a great example of someone who has the joy of caring for others."


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Colburn, who started the school year teaching four English classes, said she will resume work as a full-time librarian starting Monday. A new permanent English teacher will replace her in the classroom next week.

Students now can visit the library to check out books on weekdays "from 8 a.m. until when I go home," Colburn said.

The library still needs another $58,000 for the staffing needed to remain open for students before and after school and during lunch. But for now, Colburn said she is going to savor the moment and the anonymous donor's generosity.

"We still don't know what to say," she said. "It's wonderful."

Contact Chris De Benedetti at 510-353-7011. Follow him at Twitter.com/cdebenedetti.