Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Reader To Reader Reaches 100,000 Book Goal for Navajo Book Drive

AMHERST, MA--15,000 books are on the their way to Arizona and New Mexico. Reader To Reader, an Amherst-based nonprofit literacy organization, has reached its goal of donating 100,000 to the Navajo Nation Library located on the Navajo reservation in Window Rock, Arizona.

The book drive was launched in July of 2009 and ever since then Navajo Nation Library officials have traveled to Massachusetts twice a year to drive a large U-Haul truck full of books back to the reservation.

Reader to Reader staff and volunteers take six months collecting, sorting and boxing up books for each shipment. It takes the Navajo officials five days to drive back to Arizona spending twelve hours a day behind the wheel.

When the truck gets to Arizona it will deliver books to schools, community centers, a correctional facility, Head Start programs, Boys & Girls Clubs, and add thousands of new books to the Navajo Nation Library. It will also deliver some of the books to schools on the Hopi reservation.

“Everyone is very excited to have met our goal,” David Mazor, founder and executive director of Reader to Reader says. “It’s taken four years and there have been lots of wild things happen along the way, including flat tires and driving through Hurricane Sandy.

Last fall’s shipment was loaded on the day Hurricane Sandy hit and the truck had to shelter for the night in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania due to a curfew. Monday’s shipment was on a decidedly sunnier day. The need for books is profound, as there are no book stores on the reservation and the Navajo Nation and its small branch library are the sole libraries for the entire 27,000 square-mile Navajo Nation. The branch library was completely stocked with books donated by Reader to Reader.

David Mazor, staff person Kathryn Libby, and four Amherst College students are flying to Arizona on Friday where they will meet the bus and help with the unloading and delivery.

Even with the latest shipment of 15,000 books and a batch of refurbished computers, Mazor says the book drive is far from over. Now that Reader to Reader has reached 100,000 books the new goal is 200,000 books.

“Irving Nelson, director of the Navajo Nation Library, and I really enjoy working together and we both want to keep it going,” Mazor says. “We are grateful to everyone that has donated because without them it would not have been possible.”

People interested in donating book can email or call 413-256-8595.

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