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  • March 19, 2024 7:25 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The National Book Access Association is spotlighting an urgent issue in the literacy landscape of our nation: the impact of book deserts on children's reading development. In a compelling policy brief by Molly K. Ness, Ph.D., the harsh reality of book deserts—areas severely lacking in accessible books for children—is brought to light, emphasizing the critical need for book access in fostering literacy and educational success.

    In high-poverty areas, the scarcity of books reaches staggering proportions, with one area in Washington, DC showing only one book available for every 833 children. This disparity is not just limited to individual homes but extends to schools and public libraries, particularly affecting low-income and minority communities. The consequences of such inequity are profound, with studies showing that children with more books at home achieve higher levels of education and develop stronger literacy skills.

    However, the brief doesn't just outline the problem; it provides a roadmap to solutions that could significantly alter the literacy landscape. Among the proposed interventions are increasing funding for book distribution programs, encouraging family participation in these programs, focusing on impact-based research, and establishing book distribution in community areas to ensure books reach the hands of children who need them most. Additionally, the brief advocates for partnerships across programs to amplify their reach and effectiveness, underscoring the necessity of a coordinated national effort to combat the challenges presented by book deserts.

    The National Book Access Association stands behind these recommendations, recognizing the critical role of access to books in not only advancing literacy but also in empowering children as engaged, lifelong learners. By addressing the book desert crisis, we can open doors to endless possibilities for our nation's children, ensuring that every child has the opportunity to grow, learn, and thrive through the transformative power of books.

    Read the Brief (pdf)

  • February 23, 2024 7:19 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Reflecting on the 2024 National Book Access Association Conference: A Milestone Achieved Together

    As we close the chapter on the 2024 National Book Access Association (NBAA) Conference, I am filled with gratitude and inspired by the passion and dedication that resonated throughout "Building Foundations Through Books." It was an honor to connect with over 80 professionals who share a common goal: to enhance book access and literacy across communities.

    This year's conference was a testament to the collective wisdom, innovative strategies, and unwavering commitment of our members and partners. Each session, from the thought-provoking discussions to the practical workshops, was designed to empower us with knowledge and tools that can be immediately applied to our work.

    A heartfelt thank you to our speakers, panelists, and moderators for their invaluable contributions. Your expertise and insights have undoubtedly propelled our mission forward.

    Our sincere appreciation also extends to our sponsors, including Book Depot, whose support was crucial in bringing this event to life. Their commitment underscores the power of collaboration in driving change and making a lasting impact.

    As we reflect on the successes and lessons of this year's conference, we are already looking ahead to 2025 with anticipation. We are committed to incorporating your feedback to make next year's conference even more impactful.

    Let's continue to foster the connections made, share our successes, and support each other in our mission to build stronger foundations through books. The journey ahead is promising, and together, we are making a difference.

    Thank you to everyone who participated and contributed to the success of the 2024 NBAA Conference. Your dedication to our cause is shaping a brighter future for countless individuals.

  • July 30, 2023 1:56 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The National Book Access Association (NBAA) Steering Committee has approved a 5-year Strategic Plan: a comprehensive blueprint designed to bolster the practice of providing free book access across the United States. Our plan anticipates a future where every individual, irrespective of their location or circumstance, has easy access to own books, thereby nurturing a nation of readers and informed citizens.  We aim to do this by offering services to professionalize and build capacity within the extensive book access network of local and regional providers.

    The Initial Two Years: Building a Strong Foundation

    In the first two years, we will lay the groundwork for NBAA. Our focus will be on developing a comprehensive operational plan, conducting a baseline needs survey from people who actively distribute books for free to a variety of populations, and implementing the logistical membership and sound financial management systems, together with our fiscal sponsor, First Book. We will work tirelessly to build awareness for our shared cause and the services we will offer to members, and establish a robust online presence through our website, social media, and an online forum for knowledge sharing. To engage our members and supporters, we will introduce a series of professional development webinars, virtual conferences, and introductory happy hours with topics such as book sorting, volunteer management, and program evaluation. A methodical fundraising strategy focusing on grants and sponsorship will drive our initial growth and ensure we deliver on our commitment to providing a suite of attractive membership benefits.

    Middle Years: Expanding Our Reach and Building Capacity

    Years 3 and 4 will be dedicated to strengthening our network by expanding our membership base and establishing a research and data-sharing platform. We will work towards the creation of a national database of organizations with details of practices and summative evaluations, and develop comprehensive standards for book distribution programs. In these years, we will leverage research-informed studies to refine our approach and offer training for new topics, such as family literacy supports and e-book distribution. Our commitment to recognizing excellence will manifest in annual member awards that celebrate outstanding contributions to the field.

    The 5-Year Horizon: Maximizing Impact and Achieving Stability

    By the end of year five, we envision NBAA as a unifying platform enrolling a significant number of memberships from across the field. Our focus will be on developing a comprehensive policy agenda, establishing a grant program available only to members, and creating a system to track and report our collective impact. We aspire to elevate book distribution to the level of a recognized professional field. To this end, we are committed to achieving long-term financial stability through securing funding, partnerships, and growing our reserve fund.

    Our inaugural Strategic Plan is a living document. It mirrors our commitment to flexibility and adaptation, given the ever-evolving nature of the mission we have undertaken. We hope that it inspires you to join us as a member or supporter, so that you can play your part to help strengthen the future of books and readers inclusive of everyone.

  • July 09, 2023 6:09 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    In our ongoing efforts to make a positive impact and bring about meaningful change, we've been actively engaging with various organizations and individuals who share our vision. With each passing day, we're making steady progress towards our goals, and we wanted to provide you with an update on our recent activities and plans for the future. In this blog post, we'll delve into the key developments that have taken place and discuss the exciting opportunities that lie ahead.

    Meeting with First Book: The Exec Team had the privilege of meeting with First Book, an organization dedicated to promoting literacy and providing access to books for children in need. We were thrilled to find that they are fully supportive of our program plan. However, they did raise some queries regarding the budget, particularly regarding the membership levels. To address these concerns, we've been connected with our point of contact for financial matters. Moving forward, we will be following up with First Book to ensure a smooth collaboration as our fiscal sponsor.

    Progress on Agreement: While the agreement with First Book is still pending, we are pleased to inform you that it is proceeding as planned. We anticipate finalizing the agreement very soon, marking a significant milestone in our journey towards making a lasting impact on children's literacy. Tentatively, we are considering an August 1 opening for a "keep informed newsletter" list to keep our supporters from the Build A Better World through Books conference engaged.

    Marketing, Social Media, and Communication: We are delighted to announce that the committee has recognized the importance of marketing, social media, and communication in amplifying our message and expanding our reach. As a result, we believe it is necessary to appoint a lead person and a working group dedicated to this vital area. If you have a passion for marketing and communication and are willing to take up this role, we welcome your involvement. While we hope to find volunteers to assist in this endeavor, we believe it is crucial to have someone from within the committee to manage and coordinate these efforts effectively. Please reach out to us if you're interested in being part of this exciting team.

    Friendraising and Fundraising: Another crucial aspect of our mission is friendraising, commonly known as fundraising. We are still actively seeking a partner to support us in this endeavor. If you have experience or a passion for fundraising, we would greatly appreciate your participation. Together, we can work towards securing the necessary resources to drive our initiatives forward.

    Conference Planning: The planning for our upcoming conference is well underway, thanks to the efforts of Amy and Kayla, who are taking the lead on this project. Regular meetings have been scheduled to discuss the conference in further detail. If you haven't received an invite and wish to be involved, please reach out to Kayla directly. Your input and expertise are invaluable in creating an enriching and successful event.

    We're thrilled to provide you with these updates, showcasing the progress we've made and the opportunities that lie ahead. With the support of our dedicated committee members and volunteers, we're moving closer to realizing our vision of promoting literacy and transforming the lives of children in need. We encourage everyone to remain engaged, as your contributions are essential in achieving our goals. Together, we can make a significant and lasting impact in the world of literacy.

    Stay tuned for more updates, and let's continue this incredible journey together!


  • June 12, 2023 2:13 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    In the course of developing this organization, we have developed a business plan to help articulate the vision of where we're headed.  Please review this at your leisure, and reach out to me if you have comments or questions.

    Executive Summary

    The National Book Access Association (NBAA) is a membership association dedicated to strengthening the impact of book distribution organizations. Our mission is to increase access to books for all people, particularly those in underserved populations, through strategic collaboration, resource-sharing, and professional development. By working together, we can enhance the capacity of the sector and provide equal access to engaging reading materials.

    Market Analysis

    The need for access to books among underserved populations is significant. Research has shown that lack of access to books at home is prevalent among low-income families, with approximately 60% of students lacking access in the United States. Access to books directly correlates with academic success, language development, and positive social and economic outcomes. Shared family reading also provides benefits for both children and parents.

    NBAA aims to fill the gap in book access by supporting organizations that actively distribute books for free. Our primary target market includes administrative, fundraising, and programmatic leadership of these organizations, as well as government agencies and nonprofit organizations housing such programs.

    Service Offerings

    NBAA offers a range of services designed to support book distribution organizations. These services are determined collaboratively by the members. We provide shared learning initiatives to enhance organizational capacity and facilitate networking opportunities for collaboration and support. By leveraging these services, we can collectively make a meaningful impact in the lives of individuals who lack access to books.

    To achieve our mission, we focus on three main areas:

    1. Strategic Collaboration: We aim to formalize a network of similar nonprofits committed to book distribution. Through collaboration, we can leverage resources and expertise to maximize our impact and raise awareness about the importance of book access. Advocacy efforts and awareness-raising activities will help us promote our mission and engage with like-minded organizations.

    2. Resource Sharing: We provide support and information to book distribution organizations to enhance their capacity and quality of operation. This includes fundraising workshops, collective purchasing, access to discounted services, and opportunities for collaborative fundraising campaigns. Sharing resources ensures member organizations can acquire and distribute high-quality books effectively.

    3. Professional Development: NBAA will establish a centralized platform for individuals interested in book access work. This platform will facilitate connections with existing organizations, provide learning experiences on book selection, distribution, and program evaluation, and offer a resource center with relevant articles and templates.

    Earned Revenue Model

    NBAA's revenue model includes tiered membership levels, sponsorship of the annual conference, and entrance fees for non-members. Organizational, institutional, and individual memberships will be offered at different rates, providing access to training, networking initiatives, and discounts. By actively recruiting members, we can generate revenue to support our operations and services.

    Public Relations Strategy

    Our public outreach or marketing strategy focuses on reaching individuals and organizations who understand the critical role of book distribution in addressing the literacy crisis. We attend conferences, partner with other nonprofits, and utilize social media and email marketing to raise awareness about our services and membership options. Personal outreach to potential members and supporters will also be a key recruitment method.

    Fundraising Strategy

    NBAA's fundraising strategy involves grants, donations, merchandise sales, and conference fees. We actively seek grants and sponsorships for special projects, offer recognition to sponsors, and establish partnerships with like-minded organizations. Individual donations from the public will be solicited when qualified to do so.

    Operations Plan

    NBAA will be led by a committee of experienced nonprofit book distribution professionals who will establish the organization's strategic vision. When funding allows, an Executive Director, part-time staff, and contractors will support operations. We will maintain a virtual office to ensure accessibility across the country.

    Financial Plan

    NBAA's financial plan includes fiscal sponsorship, a Finance team, and an online membership/donation processor. Our projected revenue and expenses will increase over time, with web and communication services, staff compensation, and the annual conference being significant expenses. We aim to apply for independent status by 2028.

    Desired Impact

    With a strong network of book distribution organizations, NBAA aims to close the literacy gap by supporting a robust and high functioning system to provide equal access to books for underserved populations. Through collaboration, resource-sharing, and professional development, we can collectively make a lasting impact on individuals' lives and promote the love of reading for all. Join us in strengthening book access and transforming communities.


  • April 30, 2023 7:28 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    March 10, 2023 - The Build A Better World through Books Conference brought together passionate individuals and organizations committed to improving book access for underserved populations. Attendees were treated to a day filled with insightful sessions, networking opportunities, and valuable knowledge-sharing. Let's take a look at some of the highlights and key takeaways from the event:

    Attendee Feedback: The conference received overwhelmingly positive feedback from participants, with an average rating of 4.4 out of 5. Attendees were highly satisfied with the information presented during the sessions, with an average rating of 4.4 out of 5. They felt that the event met their expectations and would strengthen their nonprofit's mission.

    Inspiring Connections: The networking sessions were a hit, enabling attendees to connect with like-minded nonprofits and individuals from across the country. Many expressed excitement about learning from others who are dedicated to providing books to their communities. These connections will undoubtedly foster collaboration and support in the future.

    Informative Sessions: The sessions covered a range of topics, including sourcing, sorting, storing, and transporting books, effective book distribution methods, data collection and management, funding strategies, and communicating impact to funders. Attendees found the information shared during these sessions to be invaluable, with several actionable ideas they plan to integrate into their nonprofits.

    Desire for More Funding Opportunities: One recurring theme among participants was the need for more funding streams and financial support. Many acknowledged that the work of book distribution organizations is often underfunded. They expressed a desire for additional sessions focusing on funding and grant writing strategies to ensure the sustainability and growth of their nonprofits.

    Ideas for Future Events: Attendees provided valuable suggestions for future conferences, including more sessions on marketing, board engagement, individual nonprofit spotlights, and topics such as volunteer management, shared operational resources, and grant writing. Some participants also mentioned the benefits of having geographically-based networking sessions to connect with others in their region.

    Virtual Conference Improvements: While the virtual format was appreciated for its accessibility, a few participants suggested breaking up the conference into multiple days or offering simultaneous sessions based on interest to accommodate different time zones and prevent information overload. Attendees also recommended providing a pre-made document with organized links and resources for easy reference.

    The Build A Better World through Books Conference was a resounding success, offering valuable insights, connections, and inspiration to attendees. The National Book Access Association is grateful to all who participated and provided feedback to improve future events. Stay tuned for more exciting opportunities to collaborate and make a collective impact in improving book access for underserved populations!

    For more information and recorded videos, visit the Build A Better World Through Books Event Archive or reach out to us at hello@nationalbookaccess.org.


  • March 05, 2023 10:05 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    A Brief History of Book Access

    Our work has a rich history rooted in the belief that access to books is a fundamental right for all. The early 20th century saw the advent of bookmobiles and library outreach programs, but it was during the Great Depression that the government-funded Works Progress Administration (WPA) initiated the Pack Horse Library Project, which distributed books to rural areas. This program served as a precursor to many modern book distribution initiatives.

    In the 1960s, Reading is Fundamental (RIF) was established, becoming the largest children’s literacy nonprofit in the United States. RIF’s impact is significant, but it became clear that access to books is more complex and deep rooted than one organization alone can address. Programs such as Reach Out and Read, leveraging the persuasive power of pediatricians, and the remarkable Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library were created to encourage family reading and to provide children with books to keep. Little Free Libraries provide a way for individuals to become stewards on regular book gifting. However, there continues to be significant amount of Book Deserts across our country (see article), although there are some promising book programs embedded in diverse communities, such as Barbershop Books and Laundry Cares. Still, with the recent educational and social/emotional set backs from the global pandemic, our collective work is more urgent than ever.

    As awareness of the many independent organizations doing this work grew as a result of Molly Ness’s pioneering work with the #EndBookDeserts podcasts, conferences, and the Coalition for Literacy Equity.  Rachel Stine from Book Harvest held a series of Book Provisioning meetings in response to challenges brought against book distribution programs that served schools and summer programs due to the pandemic. The idea for this association came together in November 2022 as an offshoot of these efforts.

    Researchers such as Adriana Bus, MDR Mariah Evans, Betty Hart, Susan Neumann, Todd Risley, and others have provided crucial insights into the importance of early literacy experiences and the power of book access to mitigate the effects of poverty. Research consistently supports the positive impact of book access on various aspects of individual development and academic achievement. Numerous studies have shown that increased access to books, whether in schools, libraries, or at home, fosters early literacy skills, language acquisition, and cognitive development in children. Access to a wide range of books also encourages a love for reading, promoting higher reading comprehension, vocabulary expansion, and critical thinking abilities.

    Moreover, book access has been linked to improved academic performance across different subjects, as reading proficiency is often a foundational skill in learning. Additionally, book-rich environments have been found to reduce the achievement gap between socioeconomically advantaged and disadvantaged students, leveling the playing field and enhancing educational equity.

    Beyond academic benefits, access to books has been associated with improved emotional intelligence, empathy, and a greater understanding of diverse perspectives and cultures. Furthermore, studies have highlighted the positive correlation between book access and mental health outcomes, with reading serving as a therapeutic and stress-reducing activity. Overall, the research consistently underscores the vital role of book access in nurturing well-rounded, educated, and empathetic individuals while fostering a lifelong love for learning and exploration.

    For all these reasons, we believe that continuing book access programs throughout the United States is vital for nurturing well-rounded, educated, and empathetic individuals while promoting literacy, academic achievement, and overall personal growth. These programs are an investment in the nation's future, helping create a more knowledgeable, empathetic, and innovative society.


The National Book Access Association is a Sponsored Program of First Book. Founded in Washington, D.C. in 1992, First Book is an award-winning nonprofit social enterprise dedicated to eliminating barriers to learning and inspiring young minds.

Contact us at hello@nationalbookaccess.org

National Book Access Association c/o First Book
1319 F St NW, Suite 1000, Washington DC 20004

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