Federal Librarian Summer 2010

Operation Literacy

As a U.S. Navy intelligence analyst stationed for ten months at Camp Blackhorse outside Kabul, Afghanistan, Virginia Sanchez used the base library because it was “the only place with a smooth floor large enough for me to practice my karate drills.” But the California native, a reference librarian, also noticed that “the shelves were packed with books every which way.” Sanchez characteristically took charge. She organized the books, set up webcam sessions so soldiers and sailors could read bedtime stories to their kids back home, and spearheaded the delivery of book donations for the mostly male troops, who wanted nonfiction, from Operation Paperback and Books for Troops.

She was almost too successful in her book drive: the base couldn’t handle the huge influx of volumes, so Sanchez arranged for them to go to an English-language training institute for Afghans. “It’s another way for me to contribute to homeland security,” says Sanchez, who firmly believes that “books not bombs” will make the difference in Afghanistan.

She’s still collecting and sending books to her old base but in much smaller doses.

After returning to the United States, Sanchez worked as a department librarian at the Brewitt Neighborhood Library in Long Beach (and now she’s a substitute librarian in Long Beach) before being recruited as an intelligence analyst for the Department of Immigration, Customs and Enforcement last December. She’s still involved in the battle against illiteracy. In presentations to women’s groups, like the Women’s Assistance League of Long Beach, she often starts her presentations by “passing around a brochure written in Dari” to show what illiteracy feels like.

Growing up, “I was a troubled 12-year-old, and books were always my refuge,” she says. A supportive Long Beach children’s librarian “put book after book into my hands, then let me volunteer. I was smitten.” Now, says Sanchez, “no matter where I am, I see myself in the role of librarian.”

Public Printer Nomination Friend of Libraries


President Obama nominated William “Bill” J. Boarman to be the 26th Public Printer of the United States on April 16, 2010. Mr. Boarman is a friend of the Federal Depository Library Program and federal workers. He started his career as a journeyman printer at the Government Printing Office in 1974. He represented the AFL-CIO to the Joint Committee on Printing Ad Hoc Advisory Committee on Revision of Title 44 in 1978 and 1979. He is currently vice president of the Communication Workers of America and president of the union’s Printing, Publishing & Media Workers Section.

Mr. Boarman is being supported by Representative Steny Hoyer, House Majority Leader and by Representative Robert A. Brady, Chair of the Committee on House Administration. The Senate Rules Committee, chaired by Senator Schumer of New York will review his nomination and vote for or against him and send his nomination on to the full Senate.

Bernadine Abbott Hoduski, author of Lobbying for Libraries and the Public’s Access to Government Information

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