Plymouth Library and Friends of the Plymouth Library joined with nearly 25,000 volunteers from across the country to donate half a million books in more than 6,000 towns and cities nationwide on April 23 for World Book Night U.S.
World Book Night began in the United Kingdom in 2011 to provide free books for adult readers, especially those who may not have access to books, and was launched in the U.S. last year. This year marks the first with Friends of the Plymouth Library’s involvement.
Several members of the Friends of the Plymouth Library, along with library staff, distributed special edition books in the community.
The event was held April 23 in honor of William Shakespeare’s birthday, and Plymouth Senior Librarian Trudy Hanus said, was designed to augment the passion of the written word.
“The idea of world book night, really, is to spread the love of reading person to person,” Hanus said. “No strings attached. It’s purely because we love reading and want to share that love with others.”
Publishers from around the country donated 30 World Book Night edition titles from authors such as Ray Bradbury, Tina Fey, Jon Grisham, Mark Twain and many others.
Plymouth Library received 16 boxes of 20 books, and volunteers picked them up to distribute at senior living homes, schools and social services locations.
“We were asked by Hennepin County Libraries if our Friends group would pilot this for the library system; to see how it goes and share our experience,” Hanus said. “We’re excited to be one of the first, and to check it out to see if we can’t make a bigger splash next year.”
Hanus handed out free copies of Willa Cather’s “My Antonia” at Interfaith Outreach and Community Partners in Plymouth.
Linda Arendt, Friends of the Plymouth Library President, and Cathy Fischer, Friend of the Plymouth Library, set up their post at Plymouth Metrolink Park and Ride Station 73 for World Book Night.
As transit riders emerged from buses from downtown Minneapolis, Arendt handed out copies of Alexander McCall Smith’s “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” while Fischer gave out James Patterson’s “Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life.”
While some people at Station 73 showed initial apprehension to a person trying to hand them a book, once they realized that nobody was trying to sell them anything or pedal a particular message, broad smiles typically appeared.
“It’s just important to get people reading,” Arendt said. “Children read if they see their parents reading. And just having books in the home encourages children to read.”
“Reading is so important,” Fischer added. “I went to a program a long time ago at a library and the woman gave us all stickers that said ‘always take a flood book.’ And the idea was; take a book with you wherever you go, it can make your life better.”
Arendt continued to say that World Book Night brings recognition to library systems in the community. She said a lot of people can neglect the fact that they have a valuable resource in a local library right in their town.
“This is sort of our first shot at just giving out books to people to encourage reading,” Arendt said. “I had originally seen this last year on the news where I saw all these people in the street hocking free books, and this is just such a cool idea.”
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