Melanie Sorenson was the definition of a power Bookshare Member. A voracious reader and a student of 19th century history, she sometimes downloaded over 100 books a month.
Melanie, the student member of the Bookshare Advisory Board, sadly died last month at age 20 from complications stemming from the H1N1 virus.
When Melanie was a freshman, and the only student who was blind at Whittier College, she suggested that the office of Disability Services turn to Bookshare to produce the books in the format she needed to be able to access them for her classes. About seven weeks before every quarter, boxes of books would arrive at Bookshare’s Collection Development department where they would be chopped, scanned, proofread and processed into the collection in time for Melanie’s first week of classes. A partnership between Whittier College and Bookshare grew and because of the contribution of books for Melanie, the number of books read by postsecondary students in colleges and universities across the country grew as well.
Thanks to Melanie’s suggestion, other colleges heard about the Whittier/Bookshare partnership and began sending hard copies of needed books as well. The chopped books are always returned, but the files are able to be shared by students across the country who are Bookshare Members.
Benetech’s founder and CEO, Jim Fruchterman, recently wrote about Melanie’s passing in his Beneblog. Her legacy lives on not only as a dedicated student and valued member of the Bookshare Advisory Board, but by all the books she shared with Bookshare.