Thursday, November 20, 2014

Library Books Save FSU's Student's Life (Literally)

When the topic of the school shooting at Florida State University began to trend in news outlets on the morning of Thursday, November 20, 2014, my heart dropped and my throat tightened. Yet another incident of senseless violence involving guns taking place in a U.S. school - in an environment where bright-eyed students and hard-working teachers, staff, and administrators are supposed to be safe - was just too much for me to deal with. So I turned away from the news sites.
FSU student Jason Derfuss holds one of the library books that saved his life.
Photo by Jason Derfuss

Later, I logged into Facebook and began to scroll through my News Feed. An amazing story caught my eye: An FSU student hadn't realized that he had been targeted by the gunman until after returned home, removed his backpack, and took out the library books inside. Holding the books, he noticed they were pierced with bullet holes and that they had actually prevented the bullets from the gunman's weapon from entering his body. Reading this story, I found it absolutely incredible. It wasn't until I saw photos of these bullet-riddled library books - photos that were posted by the student himself - that I at last believed the story.

As reported in media outlets, student Jason Derfuss was at Strozier Library on the FSU campus on the night of the shooting. He checked out a stack of library books, placed them inside his backpack, and began walking out of the library when the gunman entered the building. The gunman started to unload his weapon, and Derfuss heard the shots. Relating the incident to his friends and followers on Facebook, Derfuss said:

"Tonight there was a shooting at FSU, right as I was leaving Strozier. I didn't know this at the time, but the Shooter targeted me first. The shot I heard behind me I did not feel, nor did it hit me at all. He was about 5 feet from me, but he hit my books. Books one minute earlier I had checked out of the library, books that should not have stopped the bullet. But they did. I learned this about 3 hours after it happened, I never thought to check my bag. I assumed I wasn't a target, I assumed I was fine. The truth is I was almost killed tonight and God intervened."

Derfuss proceeded to share photographs of his bullet-pierced library books. In another photo, he is holding a bullet that he had removed from one of the books, a bullet that was meant for him. You can see some of these photos below:

As bibliophiles, we are well aware that books have the power to change lives. We now know that they also have the power to save them.

All above photographs are by Jason Derfuss.

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