Janet Brewer, director of Nicholson Library at Anderson University, is always brainstorming ways to better serve students. From small changes in library décor to the seats students sit in and the books they read, Brewer plays a big part in making Nicholson Library the quiet and relaxing place that it is. For several of these changes, Brewer points to “Better World Books,” a nonprofit organization that allows the Anderson University community to raise money while giving books to others.
Better World Books collects and sells donated books from more than 2,300 college campuses. Half of the proceeds go back to the colleges once their donated books are sold, while the other half of the proceeds go to one of Better World Books’ four primary literacy partners. Since its start, the company has turned more than 55 million books into $10.4 million in funding for education and literacy programs. The company prides itself on giving all people equal opportunity to achieve their potential with the help of books.
In 2008, Brewer attended a librarians’ conference where the organization was one of many exhibitors. “I had the chance to speak with staff of the organization, and I learned of their passion for saving old books,” said Brewer.
The Better World Books literacy partner that the AU campus supports is Books for Africa. “From our campus alone, we have sent thousands of books to Better World Books,” said Brewer. The organization has been able to provide African citizens with over $400,000 in monetary donations. AU has helped send more than 80,000 books to Africa.
Lori Scott, head of acquisitions at Nicholson Library, assists Brewer with the Better World Books partnership. “The best thing about the partnership with the organization is that it benefits others, such as students and those in Africa,” said Scott. “We use the money we receive back from Better World Books to purchase new furniture for students, such as the big comfy couches and new chairs in the center of the library.”
Brewer not only focuses on making the library a better place with the help of the proceeds from Better World Books, but the company helps salvage books that would otherwise be recycled. Through Brewer’s partnership with the organization, the library is making a social impact while reinforcing Anderson University’s sustainability goals. “There are always tons of books left over after AU’s yearly book sale,” said Brewer. “Better World Books is a great alternative to recycling.”
The AU partnership with Better World Books and Books for Africa has been effective for all groups involved. “Better World Books is the library’s Tri-S,” said Brewer. “It fits with our mission, so we encourage students to get involved.” Students who are interested in supporting Better World Books can do so by dropping of any unwanted used or new books into one of the two boxes located at the entrance of library.
— Kelli Webster is a senior from Indianapolis, Ind., majoring in communication arts. Webster is an associate with Fifth Street Communications®, writing on behalf of the Anderson University Office of University Communications.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of about 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, music, nursing, and theology.