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Bookshare Volunteers Expand Collection

We are grateful for the dedicated volunteers who help us bring more books to more members

By Vanessa Wai, Communities Manager, Benetech Global Literacy Program

April 23-29 is National Volunteer Week. This year the theme is “Service Unites.” This theme aptly describes the amazing work of our incredible Bookshare members and volunteers.

Bookshare started as a community program that connected blind and visually impaired individuals in order to share their scanned books with each other. Members scanned and uploaded their books so that other members could enjoy them without duplicating the effort of scanning the books themselves. Since then, the Bookshare community has grown to over 470,000 members, 820 publisher partners, 150 volunteers, 790 Mentor Teachers, 160 Parent Ambassadors, plus thousands of schools, districts, sponsors, educators, parents, students, and friends.

Today, volunteers continue this tradition of adding books to the collection. In 2016, volunteers added 602 books into the collection, which is a total of 280,882 pages! All books go through a three-step process and are reviewed by at least three different volunteers to ensure high quality, accessible ebooks.

Volunteer process flowchart that says: 1. Scanning Volunteers, 2. Proofreading Volunteers, 3. Approval Queue Volunteers

First, scanning volunteers scan and submit books. Second, proofreading volunteers proofread the scanned books to correct errors and format for accessibility. Third, approval queue volunteers review and approve books to go into the Bookshare collection.

Bookshare volunteer Evan Reese scans and proofs books
Bookshare volunteer Evan Reese scans and proofs books

Evan Reese, Bookshare member and volunteer in Ohio, says:

It’s truly marvelous that people all over the country can work together to make books  accessible for those of us who can’t read regular print that otherwise wouldn’t be available anywhere. Only Bookshare lets us do this kind of thing. Nowhere else can people have the desire to read something that’s inaccessible, make their wish known, and get their wish granted in a few weeks. And that doesn’t take into account the likelihood of many other Bookshare members, finding out about the book once it’s in the collection, who will be able to read and enjoy it who otherwise never would.

Because of our volunteers’ efforts, members are able to access thousands of books that we would not otherwise have in our library. In 2016, members downloaded the books added by volunteers a total of 85,723 times! Below is the list of the top ten most downloaded volunteer-added books with their corresponding volunteers.

Title, Number of Downloads, Volunteer Scanner, Volunteer ProofreaderCover image for Wayside School is Falling Down by Louis Sachar

  1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, 2523, Deborah M., Nicholas W.
  2. Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #2), 645, Eric T., Scott B.
  3. The Titan’s Curse (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #3), 551 Eric T., Satauna H.
  4. Horton Hears a Who!, 130, Tonilyn T., Lena H.
  5. Frog and Toad Together, 119, Lissi D., Evan R.
  6. Fablehaven (Fablehaven Series, Book 1), 118, Christamae Z., Amber W.
  7. Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key (Joey Pigza #1), 102, Anthony I., Satauna H.
  8. Tigers at Twilight (Magic Tree House #19), 99, Tami F., Pratik P.
  9. The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge, 97, Ron P., Lea T.
  10. Wayside School is Falling Down, 95, Sarah K., Karen B.

I am truly amazed by the resilience and dedication of our Bookshare Volunteers. In 2007, we were five years old and Bookshare had over 26,000 books in the collection – all scanned by dedicated volunteers and staff. And now, ten years later, because of the amazing work of this community and our publisher partners, we now have over 545,000 books in our collection. It’s astonishing how much Bookshare has grown. We wouldn’t be where we are today without the support of our community. Thank you!

Are you interested in becoming a Bookshare Volunteer? Learn more about our volunteer opportunities and click on Sign Up to get started.

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