Gale and Book Aid International: A Shared Mission for Empowerment

| By Jessica Edwards |

Although I spend most of my time working for the Gale International Marketing team, I’m also a Publisher Ambassador for the charity Book Aid International. After touring the Cengage warehouse last year and learning about operational processes, including the scrapping of books, I was inspired to research ways of extending the lives of books marked for pulping. I consequently came across Book Aid International, a long-established charity who ship new books from UK publishers out to sub-Saharan Africa, and was immediately impressed with the value and scale of their work.

The charity not only accepts book donations, but establishes librarian training programmes and funds refurbishments at partner libraries in sub-Saharan Africa and the occupied Palestinian territories. Some of these libraries are in communities with a very limited access to books such as refugee camps, prisons, and slums, others are in hospitals or universities where resources are extremely dated. Book Aid International works with some of the largest UK publishers, and all the books shipped abroad are new. In 2016, they sent over a million books. They also work with local publishers to source books in local languages.

It can be hard to appreciate quite how desperate the need is, but a few particularly powerful stories go some way towards demonstrating. The Menelik II Referral Hospital in Ethiopia is a hospital with no internet connection, and therefore no online resources. Thus, the library is vital for medical staff to access the up-to-date information they require. Nearly all the books in the hospital library are provided by Book Aid International. Samuel’s story in the video below is also a powerful indication of how the work of Book Aid International helps individuals pull themselves out of poverty. The video also outlines the charity’s many achievements over the last year.

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A Look Inside Gale’s Reading Mentor Program

| By Caroline Drexler |

Background

I began my career at Gale as a library sales consultant in February of 2000, moving to my current customer success manager role in 2016. Within my first two years at Gale, I heard about an organization working with students at the local elementary school since 1998 called the Hillside Mentor program. At the time Laurie Fundukian was heading up this program, she worked in the editorial department at Gale for over 17 years.

Typically, each fall the Hillside Mentor team reaches out to the school to determine the start date of the program—we solicit Gale folks to get volunteers. Normally, we get about 30 volunteers, but there is no limit due to the massive amount of kids requesting help. Usually, one or two students are assigned a mentor, for one hour every week. We meet with the student in the library or classroom and read to them while they eat lunch, while trying to encourage them to read to us. Some days, we play a game or talk but as a mentor, our job is to improve their skills by encouraging them to read.

Dylan’s Story

When I joined the program I was assigned a student who was not only a poor reader, but also had many challenges at home.  His name was Dylan, a kindergartner at Hillside Elementary, who was living with his grandparents. He was never read to as a child and dealt with the immense struggles of a missing father and drug addicted mother. I could tell he was a very curious child, but had issues focusing on a specific task.

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