Program Supplies Books to Needy Black Belt Schools

Article excerpt

More than $5,000 in children's and young adult books will be awarded to at least five schools in Alabama's Black Belt region in December through the University of Alabama's School of Library and Information Studies' Book Bonanza for the Black Belt Program.

Started in 2009 by Jamie Naidoo, associate and Foster-Ebsco Endowed professor with UA's School of Library and Information Studies, the Book Bonanza for the Black Belt program donates fiction and non-

fiction library books to schools that are in need.

The Black Belt counties of Alabama include: Barbour, Bullock, Butler, Choctaw, Crenshaw, Dallas, Greene, Hale, Lowndes, Macon, Marengo, Montgomery, Perry, Pickens, Pike, Russell, Sumter and Wilcox counties.

Schools in these counties are encouraged to apply. Each school typically receives between $1,000 and $1,500 in new books. Awarded schools are picked based on the number of books in the current school library collection, the number of books per student and how often books are checked out from the library. The schools with the most needs are awarded the books.

Naidoo is a former Alabama school library media specialist who worked in Shelby County. Although he was able to maintain an up-to- date book collection in his library, most schools in the Black Belt are not as fortunate.

"Each year, I was able to supplement my book budget with local funds acquired through PTA donations and fundraisers such as the Scholastic Book Fair," Naidoo said. "Many parents and families of the students in my school had the extra means to viably support my fundraisers, giving me extra money to purchase books for my library collection."

However, because of the low socioeconomic level in communities throughout the Black Belt region, parents and families of students in those schools are less likely to have the monetary means to help support their school's library media center, he said. This contrast gave Naidoo the desire to help Black Belt schools.

In addition, many school library media centers in the Black Belt region have not received funding for library books in several years and the books they have are outdated, Naidoo said.

Many of the school libraries that apply for the grant have an average nonfiction copyright date of the 1970s across all subjects. …