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Nurses send troops good reads

March 27, 2003

By Stacy Lambert

Baylor's Louise Herrington School of Nursing's Learning and Resource Center is sending books to American troops overseas in support of Operation Paperback.

Operation Paperback is a volunteer organization that began in 1999. According to the group's Web site, its goal is to collect 'gently used paperback books and send them to American troops overseas.'

Kathryn Leonard, assistant librarian for the School of Nursing, came up with the idea for the project last year.

She said the workers at the Learning and Resource Center decided it would be fitting for the librarians to adopt Operation Paperback as their service project because it involved books.

Leonard said the librarians decided to join the book donation project when they became aware that American troops were stationed in places without resources.

Leonard said anyone can donate to the cause. The Learning and Resource Center collects books from students, faculty and staff.

The librarians package the books themselves and send them to the soldiers' current addresses.

The books sent to the Middle East must fall within certain guidelines, such as no political or religious material and no advertisements or nudity.

Leonard said the librarians have received 'many touching responses.' They receive at least one letter of thanks for every box they send out, she said.

One soldier stationed in South Korea wrote, 'It is really nice to see that there are still organizations out there that are concerned about our troops overseas. Here in Korea we are so busy with the mission at hand that we lose track of things. It's people like you that make what we do all worth it.'

The resource center has sent out 750 books so far, and the organizers currently are collecting more books to ship overseas.

The books have gone to soldiers all over the world. For example, the Resource and Learning Center has sent books to Kuwait, Japan, Afghanistan and aircraft carriers stationed at sea.

The Learning and Resource Center started shipping books to troops last year. Dr. Jody Guenther, director of the Learning and Resource Center, said because of the war with Iraq the project, 'turned out to be more important than we thought it would be.'

Steve Chisolm, the director of student ministries at the School of Nursing, said, 'For so many units deployed in the Middle East for years there is only so much training they can do. Reading is a mental health break.'