Judith’s Reading Room Opens 2nd Library in Mississippi
Organization Champions Literacy in Communities That Lack Books
February 24, 2020 — In celebration of Black History Month and the organization’s 10th Anniversary, Judith’s Reading Room dedicated its 99th library today — its 2nd in Mississippi — in collaboration with Rev. Dr. Leoda Topps, Ph.D, Education and Pastor at the Avery Chapel Church in Southaven, MS.
Judith’s Reading Room, a literacy nonprofit organization founded in 2010 in the memory of Judith F. Krug, a librarian who dedicated her life to freedom of speech and access to books for all, has established libraries in 21 countries filled with over 128,000 books.
To celebrate the organization’s 10th Anniversary, the Board of Directors allocated $5,000 to be divided amongst 10 of its “stand out” libraries. Rev. Dr. Topps is one of the 10 to receive the organization’s special commemorative award. Specifically, Judith’s Reading Room purchased 73 books for its 99th library.
In 2014, Judith’s Reading Room teamed with Rev. Dr. Topps to deliver more than 700 hand-picked children’s books to St. Peter’s AME Church in Tunica, MS, where Dr. Topps vowed to assist children after school with their homework and to help improve their reading skills. That donation became our 86th Judith’s Reading Room Library.
Rev. Dr. Topps said, “I’ve reached out to a preacher at one of my sister churches to help pull in community children to visit the new library at Avery Chapel Church.” She added, “As a newcomer to Southaven, I have found that many of the children come from single-parent homes with multiple children and the mothers’ work schedules don’t allow them to spend much time reading to their children. This is where the church can step in to help.”
Judith’s Reading Room’s mission is to enrich lives and societies by proactively encouraging freedom through literacy. In the ten years since its founding, Judith’s Reading Room has established 99 libraries in 21 countries filled with 128,000 books valued at nearly $1.4 million. The Freedom Through Literacy Award, initiated in 2015, has disbursed $33,500 in prize money, honoring 31 individual champions of literacy in the United States, the Philippines, Bhutan, Pakistan, Rwanda, Cambodia, Mexico, Australia, Zimbabwe and Greece.
Judith’s Reading Room, a nonprofit literacy organization founded in 2010 in the memory of Judith Krug, a librarian, announced today the dedication of its 98th library in its 21st country in collaboration with a visionary and unstoppable elementary school teacher from a village on an island in north Greece.
The village of Potamia, on Thassos Island, did not have a community library, making it difficult for children to celebrate the joy of reading and to develop literacy skills. That was until Vicky Xanathopoulou reached out across oceans to apply online for the 2019 Judith’s Reading Room Freedom Through Literacy Award. Xanathopoulou won the coveted 2019 “Judith’s Award,” for which only teachers, librarians or authors are eligible. To augment her $500 cash prize, for which she flew to New York City to accept, the organization decided to help her establish a community library in her seaside village.
The 98th Judith’s Reading Room library is housed inside the historic Cultural Union of Polignotos Vagis stone building, originally used as a fishing sanctuary for monks. A museum, it hosts cultural events and will now house the community library. Judith’s Reading Room provided 75 children’s books in English. Villagers are augmenting the library by donating books from their home collections. All books will be available for loan and families will enjoy organized reading activities and book presentations. In all, 150 children will be served by the library.
“I’m so happy and grateful for the opportunity given by Judith’s Reading Room to the children of my village to have more reading and cultural experiences,” said Xanathopoulou.
Literacy Non Profit Dedicates its 97th Library Judith’s Reading Room libraries are now found in 20 countries
March 25, 2019 — Lehigh Valley, Pa. Judith’s Reading Room, established in 2010 to honor the memory and legacy of Judith F. Krug, a librarian, announced today that it has established a library containing over 400 books in the mountainous town of Zambrano in the Central American country of the Republic of Honduras.
College Librarian, Ana Luhrs, a former member of the board of directors
of Judith’s Reading Room, recently led a group of Lafayette students to
build a curated library for exceptional women selected by village
elders to attend The Leadership Center (TLC) in Zambrano. Ana used the
funds she was awarded as a winner of the organization’s 2018 Freedom
Through Literacy Award to purchase books, among them autobiographies of
women, and to create a culture of reading for pleasure.
to information beyond the classroom allows students to take ownership
of their educational journey,” said Luhrs. “Library collections,
especially well-curated collections, provide a variety of perspectives
beyond that of a classroom textbook and an instructor,” she added.
Reading Room stands with the dozens of young women hand-picked to learn
management and leadership skills at TLC so that they can become highly
productive leaders in their country,” said Cathy Leiber, Co-Founder,
Judith’s Reading Room. “Thanks to Ana Luhrs, having a library at TLC
which is packed with books to encourage a love of reading, students will
be able to explore the world when there is little opportunity to leave
their country,” added Leiber.
Since 2010, Judith’s Reading Room has dedicated 97 libraries in 20 countries. The organization sponsors the Freedom Through Literacy Award which has disbursed $29,000 in awards to 25 individual champions of literacy. Additional information and the application for the 2019 Award can be found at www.JudithsReadingRoom.org/freedom-through-literacy-award/
On Sunday, April 14, Robert Lucas returned to his ancestral home in Cambodia with two boxes full of children’s books, the latest donations from Judith’s Reading Room.
On Saturday, May 4, Judith’s Reading Room dedicated two libraries in Cambodia. The first library of 76 children’s books in English was dedicated in collaboration with A New Day Cambodia, a nonprofit in Phnom Penh that provides food, shelter and education to more than 100 scavenger children either abandoned or forced to pick trash to help support their families. At A New Day Cambodia, children are taught English to increase their opportunities for securing a job, particularly in the tourist industry.
The second library was inaugurated at Anjali House, located near Angkor Wat, home to the famous Buddhist pagoda in Siem Reap. Anjali House serves 110 children between the ages of 4-18, who come from families so poor they are forced to beg on the streets. Anjali House will receive a custom collection of 87 books ranging in topics from photography to football to science.
The books, 163 in all and written in English, include titles such as Green Eggs and Ham, If You Give a Pig a Pancake and A-Z Picture Dictionary, were given to these two organizations that rescue children from the streets and garbage dumps of one of the poorest countries in the world.
Cathy Leiber, cofounder of Judith’s Reading Room met Lucas during a trip to Los Angeles last year where he was working at The World is Just a Book Away. She was looking to expand the organization’s presence in Asia and Lucas offered to personally deliver the books this month when he moves home to care for his grandfather.
“Growing and expanding international collaborations based upon common goals to foster an appreciation of books, and the pleasure of reading, has the potential to create a positive impression of Americans in Cambodia and promote world peace ,” says Leiber.
Judith’s Reading Room announced today its donation of a children’s library on board the USS GEORGE H.W. BUSH (CVN 77) aircraft carrier. This is the second library Judith’s Reading Room has donated to the presidential carrier. This donation of 436 children’s books valued at $4,927 will give the 4,500 Sailors more opportunities to stay connected with their children while serving overseas for long periods of time
In collaboration with The World Is Just A Book Away, Judith’s Reading Room opened eight (8) libraries-within-libraries at schools in East Java, Indonesia, as follows:Lois & Buzz Aldrin Library, Fess Parker Library, Muhammad Yunus Library, Desmond Tutu Library, Natasha Richardson Memorial Library, Yo-Yo May Library, Liam Neeson Library and Little Dolphin by the Sea Library
Each Judith’s Reading Room library contains 100 English language children’s books to supplement local language books. Judith’s Reading Room donated today a total of 800 books, valued at $6,400, serving 2,208 school age children at these 8 schools.
New School Library in Albania Stocked with English Books
Students at Rakip Kocibelli Elementary School in the village of Qatrom, near the city of Korca in South-Eastern Albania celebrated the opening of their new school library made possible primarily through 100 English-language children’s books donated by Judith’s Reading Room. Today’s donation expanded the organization’s reach to Europe after its having established libraries in Afghanistan, India, Indonesia, and Nigeria.
Peace Corp volunteer Dennis Dias contacted the organization in August, having been referred to it by the American Library Association. Dias, based in Qatrom, spearheaded the international collaboration which included the Embassy of France, Darien Book Aid, Friends of Albania and Judith’s Reading Room. “I think this is a testament to what the people can accomplish when they work together,” said Dias. The school marked the occasion by organizing a party in the school’s new library room. Elson Barci, a teacher at the school, worked throughout the celebration checking out books to a line of impatient students. “The opening of the library is an important project for the school because it’s a good way of helping the next generation and developing capacity in the village. You can see the desire in the children’s eyes to see all these books,” said Barci.
Children decorated the room in preparation for the opening of the library with the American flag and a Judith’s Reading Room sign. Ten year old Sajmir, who stood in line for a book explained, “it’s my first time to see so many beautiful English books in one place.” An eager seven year old student approached a teacher and said, “I don’t know English, but can I take one? My cousin will explain it to me.” The faculty expects the new books will motivate students to read more and improve their English. Currently, grades three, four and five receive English lessons twice a week, and there are plans to expand English education in the coming years.