By: Janet Lee Issue: Rebuilding Our Infrastructure Section: Collaboration
Creating A Reading Culture
Yohannes Gebregeorgis, children’s librarian and library champion, received honorary membership to the American Library Association (ALA) in New Orleans during the opening session of the ALA annual conference. Honorary membership is the highest honor bestowed by ALA on an individual.
Honorary membership may be conferred on a living citizen of any country whose contribution to librarianship or a closely related field is so outstanding that it is of lasting importance to the advancement of the whole field of library service. It is intended to reflect honor upon the ALA, as well as upon the individual. Past recipients of the award have included: Bill and Melinda Gates, Oprah Winfrey, President Jimmy Carter, members of Congress, and other noted librarians.
In 2008, Gebregeorgis was named a Top 10 CNN Hero for his work in bringing libraries and literacy to his native Ethiopia. Throughout his career, Gebregeorgis has overseen the establishment of over 40 school library partnerships, three free-standing children’s libraries and seven donkey mobile libraries.
He received the Presidential Citation for International Innovation in 2008 from the ALA president, his former professor, Dr. Loriene Roy, and was invited by ALA president Camila Alire to present the presidential keynote in Boston in 2010. Later in that same year, he was honored with an Honorary Doctorate in Public Service at Regis University, in Denver, Colorado. He was then further honored by being featured in Changing the World: Stories Celebrating 100 Years of Graduate Education at the University of Texas at Austin, published by the University of Texas Press.
In an effort to expand literacy efforts to the northern region of Tigray, Ethiopia he established the Tigray Library and Literacy Development Project, under which he set up the Segenat Children and Youth Library in Mekelle. This gained the attention of American Libraries editor, Leonard Kniffel, who wrote about Gebregeorgis’ work in the article New Youth Library in Ethiopia Makes Impossible Dream Reality.
In addition to his beloved book, Silly Mammo, Gebregeorgis has written a new children’s book, Tirhas Celebrates Ashenda: An Ethiopian Girl’s Festival. Over 3,000 copies of this book were distributed during the dedication of the Segenat Library.
While in New Orleans to receive the ALA award, Gebregeorgis was invited to speak at the Dr. Martin Luther King branch of the New Orleans Public Library in the Lower Ninth Ward, a joint-use library that was ravaged by floodwaters after Hurricane Katrina and has since become a vital force in the rebuilding of New Orleans.
To learn more about Ethiopia Reads visit http://www.ethiopiareads.org.
Colorado Gives Day, an initiative to increase philanthropy in Colorado, is back after an outstanding show of support for the state’s nonprofits last year. An amazing 12,500 individuals donated online, giving $8.4 million, and 28 local businesses joined the effort by adding another $320,000 in just 24 hours. Colorado Gives Day founder, Community First Foundation, and corporate partner, FirstBank, look forward to a repeat performance on Tuesday, December 6, 2011, the second annual Colorado Gives Day.
“Giving back is part of our culture,” said FirstBank CEO John Ikard, whose company is contributing $500,000 for the campaign. “The way we see it, we’re only going to be as strong as our community.”
FirstBank’s goodwill has generated $40 million in charitable contributions and thousands of volunteer hours since 1963, bestowing upon them the honor of Partner in Philanthropy by the Denver Business Journal.
Events like Colorado Gives Day can inspire organizations to support their communities in creative ways. Last year, Colorado Lending Source gave each of its employees $100 to support their favorite local charity.
“Colorado Gives Day was my inspiration for giving my employees money to make a donation online in lieu of a traditional holiday gift,” said executive director Mike O’Donnell. “Every day my employees are helping our small business clients make investments in Colorado’s economy, so I can’t think of a better holiday gift than one that gives my employees a chance to make their own investment by giving back to charity.”
For more information or to make a donation, visit www.GivingFirst.org/cogivesday.