Friday, July 29, 2011

Book donation enriches tribal library

By Lemanuel Loley
Navajo Times

A truckload of 15,000 books worth $100,000 arrived at the Navajo Nation Library on Monday morning.

The books were donated by Reader to Reader, a nonprofit literacy organization based in Amherst, Mass., that builds library and school resources across the United States and in 13 countries.

The load was personally delivered by Irving Nelson, library director, and assistant Everett Etsitty, who flew to Massachusetts on July 11 and spent the next day loading a 26-foot rental truck to carry the donation back to Arizona.

The drive back took four days, with Nelson and Etsitty alternating shifts on three 18-hour days and the final 12-hour drive.

It was the third time Nelson has made such a haul. The first donation, totaling 15,000 books, came in November 2009 and was followed by another 15,000 in July 2010. The new shipment brings the number of donated inventory to 45,000, valued at half a million dollars.

This brings the total number of volumes in the 14-year-old Navajo Nation Library to more than 75,000, including an oral history section that can be accessed by request.

The new shipment of books and DVDs includes a special collection of 16 boxes of Native American books and papers donated by two-time National Book Award winner Peter Matthiessen, who wrote "In the Spirit of Crazy Horse."

The donation also contains the works of many highly regarded children's authors including Jane Yolen, Mo Willems, Norton Juster, Alice Schertle and Susan Pearson.

The latest shipment of books was chosen from a broad assortment of 200,000 books. Nelson worked closely with David Mazor, founder of Reader to Reader, to decide what books were to be donated. The collection mainly is made up of Native American literature including Native American history, fiction and poetry.

Mazor discovered the tribal library by accident during a trip to visit reservation school libraries in spring 2009. While visiting the Navajo Nation Museum, Mazor discovered that it also housed the tribe's central library.

Mazor met with Nelson and they discussed the library's need for books.

"I could see how Irving cared so passionately about the library," Mazor said in a telephone interview.

He learned that the tribal library serves 300,000 people a year and has limited funds to expand its offerings.

So Mazor committed his organization to helping out, and is doing so in a big way. Reader to Reader has pledged to donate 100,000 books in a multi-year book drive.

With the most recent donation, it is almost half way to that goal.

Previous Reader to Reader donations have already had a tremendous impact on the library, Nelson said. When the library first opened in 1997, it had 300 visitors a year and now averages 300 a day, he said.

"We replaced our entire fiction section thanks to Reader to Reader," notes Nelson.

The children's section checks out 300 books a day.

"We look forward to continue working with Reader to Reader," Nelson said.

"Everybody who enjoys reading will discover something they're interested in," Mazor said. "Even people who don't like to read could bring their kids to the library."

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Read While U Wait Joins Reader to Reader

Reader to Reader is proud to announce the acquisition of the Read While U Wait Room project at the Department of Transitional Assistance and Dept. of Housing & Community Development in Roxbury, Massachusetts.

The project will continue to be directed by Lisa Heyison, who has run the project for the last eleven years.

Read While U Wait provides books for all ages from newborn through high school.

The children and parents who come for support and assistance at the Department of Transitional Assistance in Roxbury are always thrilled when they receive a book as wait times can be anywhere from 1 to 6 hours. In the “Read While U Wait” Room children can play and be read to while they wait with their parents for either Emergency Housing or financial assistance for food.

The Room was originally set up by Horizons for Homeless Children, ReadBoston, and Massachusetts Literacy Coalition with lots of support by the Department of Transitional Assistance.

“I am so thrilled that Reader to Reader has adopted this project,” says Lisa Heyison. “They have already donated hundreds of wonderful children’s books that the children will love to read.”

“This is an important project and we look forward to providing a wealth of support that will include book donations, grant writing and fundraising,” says Reader to Reader executive director David Mazor. “I applaud Lisa for the tremendous dedication she has shown to making this room a great resource for over a decade. I am so glad to welcome her to our team.”

The books in the Read While U Wait Room also allow children to start their own libraries whether they are heading to a homeless shelter or to their own homes. Quite often, these children do not have any books they can call their own.

Support for Read While U Wait comes in part from OneUnited Bank.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Computers on the Way to Kosovo

Reader to Reader has donated five computers to boost the resources at the Gjergj Fishta School in Pristina, Kosovo.

The computer donation is part of an ongoing project to equip the Fisnik Matoshi Library in order to create a library space where students feel welcome and are inspired to read. The goal is to fill the library with books in both Albanian and English, and provide the students with computers, English-language software, and school supplies.

“We are so grateful to Reader to Reader for making it possible for the students of Gjergj Fishta School to have computers in their library.” Says Atdhe Matoshi.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Reader to Reader makes another massive donation of books to Navajo Nation

By Nick Grabbe
Daily Hampshire Gazette

AMHERST - A truck loaded with 15,000 donated books left Amherst Tuesday and is expected to arrive at the Navajo Nation Library in Window Rock, Ariz., this Friday.

The books were collected by Reader to Reader, an Amherst organization that since 2002 has distributed at no cost an estimated 4.5 million volumes in the U.S. and 13 countries.

Speaking by phone from the road in southern Illinois Thursday, Library Director Irving Nelson said he and employee Everett Tsosie flew to Massachusetts on Monday and rented a 26-foot truck. This is the third truckload of 15,000 books that they have driven cross-country after David Mazor, the Reader to Reader executive director, collected them, he said.

"David is a tremendously important person to the Navajo Nation," he said. "We wouldn't be able to get these quality books from any other source."

The library, which is near the New Mexico border, serves a population of 300,000 people spread out over 26,000 square miles in three states, Nelson said. The library's budget goes almost exclusively to staff, and includes just $6,000 a year to buy books, he said.

Each trip to Amherst and back costs about $4,000, but the library is able to acquire high-quality books worth about $100,000 at no charge, Nelson said. The library has replaced its entire fiction collection with books from Reader to Reader, and has donated duplicate copies to boys and girls clubs and adult and youth detention centers in the Navajo Nation, he said.

Mazor made a special effort to find books that library users had requested: children's books, ones about sports, and novels by Stephen King. In addition, author and National Book Award winner Peter Matthiessen, who knows one of Reader to Reader's board members, donated about 1,500 of his own books about Native American history and culture. They were included in this week's shipment.

Reader to Reader operates out of Amherst College's Cadigan Center on Woodside Avenue in Amherst. The organization stores about 10,000 books at a time there, and often gets walk-in donations, Mazor said.

Mazor and his volunteers also acquire books by scanning sales at homes and libraries, and increasingly they are working with major publishers such as Random House to acquire new copies, he said. Reader to Reader also gets donated books from organizations like Mystery Writers of America, he said.

Reader to Reader donated more than a million books to schools and libraries in New Orleans in response to Hurricane Katrina. Last September, it donated $50,000 worth of books to a school library in Shiprock, N.M., that was destroyed in a suspicious fire.

The organization has expanded beyond the U.S. borders and has donated books in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, India, Kosovo, Kenya, Ghana and other countries, Mazor said. It is interested in locating books in Creole for shipment to Haiti, he said.

He's also looking for history books, children's books, and volumes on health that are less than five years old, he said. He's a stickler for books in excellent condition.

For the shipment to the Navajo Nation, Reader to Reader went through 200,000 donated books before deciding on 15,000. It hopes to make another donation of 15,000 books in October and has pledged to donate a total of 100,000, Mazor said,

"David goes through every book to select books for this library," said Nelson. "And he's been to Window Rock several times, and recognizes the books in the library when he comes."

Daily Hampshire Gazette © 2011 All rights reserved

Monday, July 11, 2011

Dreams of School Become Possible

Ever since the devastating 7.0 M earthquake struck Haiti on January of 2010 the children living in the tent city in the community of Meyotte have been patiently waiting for the chance to go to school.

This fall, thanks to your support, Reader to Reader’s Hope of Haiti project is sponsoring 20 children to attend school. The children will attend the Lekol Fraternite Social in Pernier and Lekol Centre Technic in Meyotte. Both are primary schools in Port Au Prince area.

Although one year of school costs only $150, most parents are unable to pay, leaving their children uneducated only for a lack of money.

Haeinn Woo, Hope of Haiti’s founder and director (and recent Mount Holyoke graduate,) says “Haiti is definitely changing for the better but there is still so much work to improve the education system in terms of access and quality. I learned how challenging it is to form a good relationship across class and cultures However, we are building trust and experience and learning much as we work together and take small steps forwards. The children in school uniforms are the greatest pride and symbol of hope to the Haitian families.“

Haeinn’s visits to Haiti this January and again this June to collaborate with the Haitian grassroots organization OFPADAH have been the driving force behind the project, and she spent her final semester in college constantly fundraising to get the funds to support these children in their desire for education.

This fall, thanks to Haeinn and Hope of Haiti, 20 students will receive the gift of learning. Consider joining us in supporting their education: online donations are accepted at

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Costa Rica Library Has New Home

(Reader to Reader's Beyond el Campo project in Costa Rica is hard at work expanding the library they built in the coffee farming village of Santa Cruz. Here is the most recent report)

Espero que toda vaya bien en los Estados Unidos-- I hope that all is going well in the States! Things are going great in Costa Rica. We officially have a new space for the library and the language school for visiting English-speaking college students learning Spanish.

The new building was donated by the Women’s Council in Santa Cruz. The main room is at least twice the size of the previous library and there are two additional rooms attached that will act as classroom space for the language school.

Saturday we began work on the new library space by assembling a new set of shelves, varnishing wood and painting the shelf frames. Monday we will begin painting all of the walls of the new building and I hope to do a small mural. Our language classes will begin on Tuesday and at least the first week will be between 3 and 4 hours a day.

Once the library is painted, we will move all the books over from the old library and create a complete electronic catalog of the books in the library. That way we will better know the type of books the library needs in the future and can prevent repeating copies of books the library already has.

Once the new library is up and running we will be doing some activities out of the new space including reading workshops for mothers, children, and other groups. We will also be focusing our volunteering on a partnership with the local elementary school where we will be doing English classes and nutrition classes.


Mari Crook
Reader to Reader Volunteer