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The University of Alabama

UA Library School Awards Record Number of Books to Black Belt Schools

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The University of Alabama School of Library and Information Studies is awarding a record $22,552 in new, free books to elementary-, middle- and high-school libraries in the Black Belt region of the state.

It does so via the SLIS Book Bonanza for the BlackBelt & Beyond Program.

School librarians in the Black Belt region were asked to apply for the book giveaway program from January to mid-February. From a record 36 applications, the committee chose seven school libraries to receive more than $1,500 each in new children’s and young adult books.

The judging of the applications was rigorous, as every school exemplified a significant need, organizers said.

Committee members also selected a Book Bonanza Beyond winner. The Beyond winner is a low-income private school in the Black Belt Region of the state or a public school in an economically disadvantaged area of the state outside of the Black Belt.

The purpose is to give one equally deserving school library that is not eligible to be a Book Bonanza for the Black Belt winner a one-time opportunity to address literacy needs in their school community.

Book Bonanza Black Belt Winners:

George P. Austin Jr. High School, serving grades 6-8 (Marengo County), Librarian Suzanne Willie

Central Elementary School, serving grades K-5 (Lowndes County), Librarian Annie Hayes

Central High School, serving grades 9-12 (Lowndes County), Librarian Rachel Simmons

Hale County High, serving grades 9-12 (Hale County), Librarian Mindy Pearson

McKenzie High School, serving grades PreK-12 (Butler County), Librarian Laura Shell

Salem Elementary School, serving grades PreK-5 (Dallas County), Librarian Karen Grimes

Southlawn Middle School, serving grades 6-8 (Montgomery County), Librarian Thalia Gibson-Toles

Book Bonanza Beyond Winner:

Albertville Middle School, serving grades 7-8 (Marshall County), Librarian Leesa Culbert

East Lawrence Elementary, serving grades PreK-4 (Lawrence Country), Librarian Dawn Berryman

Established in 2009 by Dr. Jamie Naidoo, a UA associate professor in the School of Library and Information Studies, the SLIS Book Bonanza for the Black Belt (& Beyond) is an annual program that provides free, new books to school libraries in the Black Belt region of state.

Schools in the Black Belt region are encouraged to apply again next year for a chance to receive free books for their school libraries during the next SLIS Book Bonanza for the Black Belt & Beyond Program. Low-income private schools in the Black Belt Region or schools in economically disadvantaged areas of the state outside the Black Belt are encouraged to apply next year to be a Beyond winner.

SLIS is part of UA’s College of Communication and Information Sciences.

For additional information about the program, contact Naidoo at or SLIS at 205/348-4610.

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.