One morning when I forgot how to say N-O, I agreed to help with the Student Government Association at my school. Actually, I was honored to help Ms T because we need these students to grow up active and involved politically and civic-ally. One of our first projects is collecting items that will be shipped to soldiers to show our support and to cheer them. We talked about how supporting the troops does not mean you support war, but that you care about others. Our next project will be collecting socks and items requested by local nursing homes for the holidays.
We put together a flyer with a list of items that have been suggested by Soldier’s Angels and the website for gift packages – Operation Military Pride. Check it out and let me know if you want to get involved.
Here is a photo of two of my favorite soldiers – my sons who happened to run into each other at the D-Fac (Dining Facility) recently in Afghanistan before separating again for their assignments. I wanted to share a message #1 son left me on Facebook:
He wrote that they received their first mail at his FOB last week and he received 10 boxes of books to share. We had researched this and I’d asked the librarian at Ft Bragg about getting our soldiers books. They told me our soldiers could request a book kit from the chaplains and the librarians took his address the weekend before they deployed.
#1 son shared these books with everyone. He said "John L. Throckmorton Library <sent> omg! 2000 dollars worth of books" He wanted me to pass along <his> and the rest of the company’s gratitude, saying "we also got a TV here and all of its fame was shadowed by the books. Out of the 10 boxes ,only 5 made it to the library (aka chow hall) People were so willing to help me unload them all and get their first picks and the variety was incredible."
Getting his FB message, I called the librarian at Ft Bragg, Philip M Quinones, and left a long voice message of gratitude on behalf of our soldiers. He emailed back that "Ms. Loren Bess is responsible for ensuring that the kit reached your son’s unit" and how exciting it was to hear the books made it to the field. I will be emailing and calling her tomorrow to express more thanks.
I will continue to let you know about projects and ways to send books & reading materials to soldiers. I sent #2 son a box of graphic novels for older teens and adults. He talks about how it was like Christmas for his unit and everyone continues to read these books over & over again. (They also told him I have better taste in graphic novels than my son does )
My dentist and his staff are saving magazines for me to ship over so the soldiers have a wide variety of materials. One of my teachers and his wife have agreed to give me their personal copy of the magazine Gardens and Guns (don’t ask me because this seems to be geared to the South) which is amazingly well-written. One day he brought the magazine in before his wife had finished reading it and he had to come back to collect it again.
There are programs out there for you to join to help get books into soldier’s hands. With 185,000 soldiers deployed, they could use some GOOD books. Operation Paperback (see logo on the left). Books for Soldiers (see logo on the left).
And remember one of my favorites – Soldier’s Angels - for which I have applied to be a Community Team Leader (in my spare time HA HA).
When I posted a request on the ALA Council listserv, I learned that ALA and their wonderful Librarian Karen Muller maintain ALA Library Fact Sheet 12 on "Sending Books to Needy Libraries: Book Donation Programs." Be sure to scroll down to the bottom. The historical extension of the great WWI books campaign was the development of libraries for military bases, as well as the American Library in Paris (see http://wikis.ala.org/professionaltips/index.php/Library_War_Service for more information).
Adrienne Franco sent me information about Books for Soldiers and Sailors in World War I. http://heritage.wisconsinlibraries.org/2009/04/books-for-soldiers-and-sailors.html I think it’s important to realize that ALA doesn’t collect book donations because there would be prohibitive costs in sorting & sending appropriate materials while disposing of dated, damaged, and inappropriate materials. According to some of the library historians I have spoken with, after ALA’s work in WWI, the libraries on military bases were developed and expanded. ALA has successfully advocated for funding for federal armed forces libraries and continues to connect people to organizations that there is a roundtable in ALA called the Federal and Armed Forces Libraries Round Table.
Adrienne Franco found this article in the JSTOR database "Reading between Enemy Lines: Armed Services Editions and World War II" by Christopher P. Loss. The Journal of Military History, Vol. 67, No. 3 (Jul., 2003), pp. 811-834 including this information:
“the real source of the ALS’s growth stemmed from the 1942 "Victory Book Campaign" of the American Library Association (ALA). Spearheaded by the ALA and publicized by the Council on Books in Wartime, the nationwide book drive managed to collect approximately ten million hardcover and paperback books on behalf of the ALS.49” Note: ALS standard for Army Library Service"
I found more information and a great photograph in a pdf file on the ALA website. I simply searched for Victory Book within the pdf file and found a great photograph. I do not speak for ALA and I do not know about all of the history of ALA and their efforts to collect books during previous wars. I have met some wonderful librarians and vendors who have researched these efforts and even visited the ALA archives housed at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Just opening this conversation topic has brought interesting responses via email. Thanks for reading.