First Lady Laura Bush has announced a program in conjunction with Chicago State University in which books for schools in Ghana will be updated. The university also has an ongoing program of donating books to schools and communities in need. The latter program provides an opportunity for the thousands of books that remain unsold from the annual Friends of the Oak Park Library Book Fair to be put to good use rather than placed in a landfill.
Also, out-of-date books that our local schools no longer need can be donated. Private individuals who have no use for their old encyclopedias and other books can donate and I suggest that the many service groups such American Women, NAACP, Zonta, Optimists, Council of Churches, Infant Welfare, and PTO in Oak Park might publicly announce their availability to pick up these books from homes. One of the joys of growing up in Oak Park for me was the pen pals that our Mann School teachers arranged for us. If private donors place their names and addresses inside the front cover of their donated books, one can imagine the human rewards they might receive in return.
The coordinators, whom the appropriate people from the library, District 97, District 90, District 200, and service groups should contact are Dr. Odama Conteh, director of International Programs, Chicago State University, 773/995-2582, and the associate director of International Programs, Alicia Ross, 773/821-2861. I've spoken to Ms. Ross, and she is eager to make arrangements to obtain these Oak Park and River Forest books, as well as those leftover from other book fairs throughout the Chicago area. The benefits are multifold: Saving the treasures of books, saving landfill space, giving books to the needy, and providing the university with materials to fulfill their worthy mission.