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CBT Associate Dean John Drea selects a text from the "wall" of books that were donated to Books4Cause.
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CBT Faculty Send Thousands of Books to African Libraries

June 29, 2011

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MACOMB, IL - - What started out as a simple spring-cleaning opportunity in Western Illinois University's College of Business and Technology (CBT) resulted in a massive mound of books that will now end up in libraries rather than in a landfill.

At the end of the Spring 2011 semester, CBT Associate Dean John Drea set out an empty box in a Stipes Hall fourth-floor hallway on the Western Illinois University-Macomb campus to collect old textbooks.

"As a part of the reorganization of the college that began in 2010, we're moving some faculty offices around in Stipes Hall to put faculty from the same departments in proximity to one another. I thought some faculty members would likely want to clean out their offices during the moving process and get rid of some old textbooks they no longer wanted," Drea explained.

His hunch turned out to be right.

Soon, the box in the hall—which Drea had labeled with a sign indicating that the books would be donated to a charity—was overflowing. In the meantime, while researching a variety of options, Drea learned of an organization called Books4Cause, which collects textbooks, sells some of them to cover shipping costs and sends the rest to libraries in Africa, while recycling any that are damaged or have no value.

"I figured we'd collect a couple dozen books, feel good about keeping the books out of a landfill, and ship them off," he said.

But the collection area had to be moved to a small room on the first floor of the building, eventually amounting to a stacked "wall" of thousands of books. In mid-June, faculty and staff volunteers helped load more than 100 boxes—approximately 3,000—books to be delivered to the charity. The texts ranged from fiction novels to computer science manuals to duplicate copies of textbooks. Others were textbooks that, while perhaps only one or two years old, were no longer in line with course design.

"It's exciting to see the result of the faculty and campus community embracing the goal of social responsibility by keeping materials out of landfills and also helping others," Drea said.

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