How the F/M community aids empowerment of women’s education through books
Maureen McMullen, Multi-Media Journalism
Art Historian Elliot Eisner once said, “We have art so that when we knock on the door, somebody’s home.” Beth Anderson, a former MSUM professor and director of the American Association for University Women’s book sale believes this idea is applicable to reading as well.
“I think that you have an interior life besides your external life,”said Anderson,” And part of what feeds that is reading, thinking things.”
As director of the American Association of University Women’s annual book fair, Anderson hopes to not only ignite this internal presence in the FM community, but to raise money to empower women through AAUW’s local branch.
AAUW Empowers women through education
The American Association of University Women (AAUW) is a national organization of women with college degrees who work as advocates for women’s education and individual empowerment.
Through research and resources such as STEM education, a collaborative effort to increase women’s presence in science, technology, engineering and math fields, AAUW strives to give encouragement women and empower girls and women through education.
90 percent of the sales’ profits go toward scholarships for women. AAUW’s branch in Fargo-Moorhead works with women’s studies departments at both NDSU and MSUM to provide scholarships to women who display potential, but have various struggles with education.
Criteria for the scholarships include women who face financial restraints, single mothers and other women for whom education would otherwise be unrealistic or impossible.
Book sale raises money, provides inexpensive access to books
In congruence with its aims to spread education to those who might not have feasible access to it, AAUW’s goal for the books sales is to make reading an accessible investment for everyone.
Prices range from 50 cents to $2 per book. However, the real test of self-restraint comes towards the end of the sale, when $4 will buy you as many books that can fit in a paper Hornbacher’sgrocery bag.
Prior to each book sale, which took place in the Moorhead Center Mall, AAUW members,
most of whom are avid readers, as well as the surrounding community donate hundreds of books to be sold.
“We would come to work and find boxes of books outside,” said Anderson of the two-day
sale. “We’ve probably sold about 1000 books in the last day and a half.”
With genres ranging from children’s books to fiction, poetry and literature, to self-help and
text books, the book sale’s immense variety could satisfy any reading preferences.
“The sale is making books available to more people,” said Sybil Olson, a member of AAUW’s book club. “That’s always what you want to do before they are extinct. It’s a wonderful thing to hold a book. I just think that they should be with us for a while.”
Reading prevails as a beloved hobby
Whether or not books will still be an in-demand commodity is a concern Anderson considers while organizing each sale. With the ever-increasing popularity of tablets such as kindle and iPads, activities that don’t include a screen are perceived as less interesting ways to invest one’s time.
“Every year, we wonder, ‘Are physical books that you can touch still viable as something that people want?’
Though the rapid-fire clicking, flashing and buzzing allure of tablets and smart phones is hard for anyone to resist, actual bound books have yet to lose their roles as teachers, pass-times and stress-relievers.
Dave Doty, 56, is no stranger to today’s electronics.
“Our house is wired like you won’t believe,” he said. “We’ve got audio everywhere, you know, you can listen to the blue ray that’s playing in the basement in the upstairs when you go up to get a pizza or something.”
Despite his plethora of electronic convenience, Doty still harbors and affection for physical books. An owner of both a kindle and an extensive collection of books, Doty finds that, despite the modernity of a tablet, he still prefers tangible reading material.
“I really do like to be able to flip back in pages. I’ll read ahead, but then I’ll flip back a little bit just for a second,” said Doty. “When you do it on a screen, it just isn’t the same. When you have a book and it’s three inches thick, you know to go into the first quarter inch to find something, maybe.”
(Edited by Christa Schmidt, MSUM Mass Communications)