Oak Park Public Library staff and community members distribute free books on World Book Night

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By Community Editor

COURTESY OF OAK PARK PUBLIC LIBRARY

Oak Park, IL
— On Wednesday, April 23, 2014, Oak Park Public Library staff members and community participants shared their love of reading, person to person and one book at a time, as part of World Book Night. Through this event, 15 area givers each shared 20 free books, reaching 300 new readers in the Oak Park area, upholding the library's mission to connect and foster a love of reading.
 
Nationally, hundreds of thousands of lives were impacted, as World Book Night enrolled a record 29,000 volunteer givers, distributing 580,000 books to light and non-readers.
 
Celebrated annually on April 23, World Book Night connects free books and people, helping participants share books based on the belief that "reading changes lives, improves employability, social interaction, enfranchisement, and can have a positive effect on mental health and happiness." World Book Night expounds upon their mission, noting "Book readers are more likely to participate in positive activities such as volunteering, attending cultural events, and even physical exercise. Or more simply put, books are fun—and they can be life-changing." 
 
Area book givers gathered Wednesday night at a special reception at Maze Branch to share details of their unique experiences distributing books at various high-traffic spots in Oak Park, including CTA train stations, area parks, grocery stores and downtown sidewalks. Here are some Oak Park Public Library staff and community giver stories:
  • A 5th grade Girl Scout troop from Hatch Elementary School worked toward a library badge, visiting UIC Medical Center, sharing their selected title, Carl Hiaasen'sHoot, with elementary and middle school-aged patients. Each book included bookmarks handmade by the troop.
  • Oak Park and River Forest students and Girl Scouts shared their personal love of reading with a favorite title, Ranger's Apprentice by John Flanagan. They distributed all 20 copies to kids and teens while running through Downtown Oak Park, generating a buzz from passersby, even hooking members of a baseball team with "Stop! Free books!" as they got out of their car.
  • Adult & Teen Services librarian Rashmi Swain shared Diane Ackerman's critically acclaimed The Zookeeper's Wife, a war story of survival and hope. She found the title to be a perfect fit for connecting with her audience, Mills Tower residents and Oak Park Township Senior Center attendees, and was most touched by seeing the joy on their faces upon receiving a free book.
  • Librarian Rebecca Malinowski caught shoppers exiting Jewel on Madison St, surprising them with copies of Joseph Heller's classic Catch-22, leaving the last of her twenty copies with the store's security guard, who grew curious after seeing her connect with 19 new readers.
  • Elsworth Rockefeller, Manager of Adult & Teen Services, shared his love of poetry, spurring conversations about poets and poetry and putting a collection, 100 Best-Loved Poems, in the hands of readers newly excited about format during National Poetry Month.
  • Branch and Customer Services staff members Sarah Yale and Donna Ioppolo, a second year giver, teamed to greet commuters exiting the Blue Line station on Austin Blvd. with two very different titles to share. Always a fan of mysteries, Donna was pleased to share Agatha Christie with a new audience. Sarah, after repeatedly being asked "Is there a catch?," connected easily with both teen and adult readers interested in her title of choice, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, though many thought she was joking when she described the story as funny. She was grateful for the opportunity to talk about Young Adult literature with a wide audience.
  • Staff Learning Coordinator Sharon Grimm brought copies of aptly titled The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World by Michael Pollan into Oak Park parks, handing out a few copies at each location before heading to the next park, surprising readers across the village.
  • Trustee Matt Baron shared Walter Dean Myers' Sunrise Over Fallujah, a tale of the war in Iraq written for Young Adult readers. As he met and talked with potential recipients, Matt was awed by the respect that people showed for the material by listening to his description of the event and book. Though some politely declined his offer, making the book available to another reader, Matt felt great knowing his title had reached 20 interested readers in Chicago and Oak Park. 
Learn more about Oak Park area giver experiences through video at http://oppl.org/about/library-news/sharing-our-love-reading-world-book-night
 
World Book Night opens its application process to interested givers annually in October. To learn more about World Book Night and how to get involved, visithttp://www.us.worldbooknight.org/

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