Better World Books @ PLA

From left to right: David Hoffman, Christian Blue, Chris Johnson, Walter Sears (center left), Tom Warth (center right), Jacob Fu, Pat Plonski and Dustin Holland.

I wanted to share a couple of highlights from the Library Division’s trip to Minneapolis to exhibit at the Public Library Association’s biannual conference.  We tend to measure our impact on literacy through books donated or revenue raised and no doubt, that’s important.  What was interesting about this week was the impact some of our key literacy partners had on us!

The 1st day we spent almost entirely with Tom Warth and Pat Plonski, the Founder and Executive Director respectively of Books For Africa.  With their warehouse in St. Paul, we also had the good fortune of touring their facility later that evening.  For Tom and Pat to take their time that weekend with the Better World Books crew, made a big impression on me.  Two of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet and you know exactly where their hearts are in terms of ending the book famine in Africa.

BFA Headquarters

In keeping with our Non Profit Literacy Partner’s involvement in the conference, we kicked off the weekend by attending John Wood’s opening keynote address.  This really helped me understand more in depth the business model that Room to Read employs.  His speech clearly struck a chord with all who were in the room because the conference was buzzing all weekend with Room to Read’s cause.  John was gracious enough to mention Better World Books’ support for his mission and that resulted in a firestorm of visitors to our booth to find out how their library can utilize our Library Discards & Donations Program to benefit Room to Read.  Thanks John!

Thursday evening, after the exhibits closed, we were treated to the New Orleans Public Library’s Master Plan Party.  We started off at the swank digs of Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle where we were given a taste of the vision and direction that the NOPL Foundation has taken in their efforts to ReBuild New Orleans Public Libraries.  As MS&R’s spokesman touched on, there is a deeper relevance that exists in an architect located at the start of the Mississippi River, providing services to the rebuilding effort down at the mouth.  It’s remarkable to think of it in that sense; the ability of one terrible event to engage a nation of people. People like Irvin Mayfield who sits on the board of NOPL’s Foundation and with a hot jazz trumpet and complementary band, encapsulates the rebirth of New Orleans.  Following the presentation at MS&R, the Better World Books crew had the unique opportunity to attend Irvin’s live performance that night.  He played a total of 3 nights in Minneapolis and all raised funding for the New Orleans Public Library.

Irvin Mayfield, Jazz Trumpeter

How about that!  A summary of highlights from Minneapolis and not one mention of the Mall of America!  Whoops!

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