The Book Bridge Program springs directly from our mission of promoting excellence in the scholarship, teaching, and presentation of American history.
It’s a group effort. Every year, we consult with the local resource committee chairs and the OAH President to identify a recipient library. Every year, book publishers who exhibit at our meeting generously donate display copies at the end of the conference, as they are able. Every year, the Paramount Convention Services staff members help pack up the donated books and stack the book boxes on wooden pallets for the hotel or convention center staff to store until the library staff can come to claim them, evaluate them, and add them to their collections. And every year, students and teachers of history in our host cities receive a treasure trove of new books in American history, for free.
Last year, for example, the Book Bridge Program facilitated the donation of more than 600 books to the Gordon State College history department and library in rural Georgia.
And in 2011, OAH exhibitors donated more than 1,000 American history books (862 different titles) through this program to the library of Lone Star College-North Harris, a community college in Houston, Texas. Fifty different publishers’ imprints were represented in that donation. The librarians on the North Harris campus planned to share books with their history faculty as well as with the four other Lone Star College campuses in the Houston area, serving more than 80,000 students in all.
Other past recipients have included:
- The Rondo Community Library in the St. Paul, Minnesota, public library system;
- The libraries at San Jose State and Santa Clara Universities;
- The libraries of Northern Seattle Community College;
- The NY City College of Technology Library, CUNY;
- The Howard University Libraries;
- The downtown Martin Luther King Jr. Library within the Washington, DC, public library system;
- The City College of San Francisco Library; and
- The Milwaukee Public Schools district.
“Thank you again, for giving MPS this abundant historical opportunity!” wrote Michelle Wade of Milwaukee Public Schools, which received more than 900 books in spring 2012. “Some of the books will be distributed among the high schools to either add to or to begin their own social studies department library. Some of the books will be used district wide as we will use them in our social studies library at the district office for administrator, teacher, and student use. As you know historically social studies continues to be a budget-cutting item, and this year is no different. We are grateful for the books we received through the OAH conference and consider this a bonus for our district.”
This spring, the St. Louis Public Library system will receive books donated through the Book Bridge Program. The library’s original 1865 collection included 1,500 books and its downtown Central Library was built with a gift made in 1901 by Andrew Carnegie. Today the system comprises Central Library and 15 branches with 4.6 million items in its collection, more than 300 full-time staff, 85,000 cardholders, and 2 million visitors annually.
Our hearty thanks go, first and foremost, to all participating exhibitors, some of whom have donated books every year, and to everyone else who has advised and supported the Book Bridge Program over the last thirteen years. See you in St. Louis!