JACKSON, Tenn. – April 19, 2010 – More than 400 books line the shelves of a new library in Ethiopia as a result of a book drive led by the Ryan Center for Biblical Studies at Union University.
Donated by families and individuals from the Jackson community, the book topics range from Bible study and theology to elementary education and juvenile fiction.
Partners of Indigenous Outreach International, a ministry based in Jackson, Tenn., established the Tinsae Library in Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia, to serve as an English library for the public. The Ryan Center, a Christian research and resource library on Union’s campus, adopted the task of helping to stock the shelves.
“The response over there has been great,” Brian Denker, assistant director of the Ryan Center for Biblical Studies, said of the first donation.
Denker, who was in Addis Ababa on a two-week trip in January when IOI partners rented the library facility, said Ethiopian children learn English in school and many adults speak English.
The donated books delivered to the library were specifically chosen to aid ministers, missionaries and students from a high school across the street, which did not have an English library.
Books donated to the Ryan Center that were not selected were sold to help defray shipping expenses.
Patrick Beard, program director for IOI and Union University alumnus, led a group of six other volunteers in delivering the donated materials. In addition to transporting the 450 pounds of books to Ethiopia by checking them as extra baggage on their airplane flights, the team catalogued the books and attended the dedication ceremony for the library.
Maria Evans, a Union University sophomore, traveled to Ethiopia on the book delivery team during her spring break. She said the Ethiopians she met were hungry for literature.
“As soon as the doors opened, (the library patrons) came, sat down and started reading books,” Evans said.
Denker is already thinking ahead to the next supply of book donations, and said the Ryan Center will send books when IOI next sends a team.
While the books may be giveaways in the United States, Denker said they are being used to meet needs for a broad range of reading levels. For a child learning English, “an old, used ‘Hardy Boys’ mystery can go a long way,” he said.
By Samantha Adams (’13)