Final year for Amboy's Barnes & Noble BookFair


Amboy District 272 librarian, Mary Jo Zinke, will host her final Barnes & Noble BookFair in Rockford on Sunday, Nov. 19. All proceeds from the event will benefit the district’s school libraries.  (Photo contributed)

AMBOY – After a very successful 10-year run, this will be the final Barnes & Noble BookFair held in Rockford to benefit Amboy school libraries. Organized by Amboy school librarian Mary Jo Zinke every November for the past decade, this year will be the last chance for the community to come to CherryVale Mall and see why the book fairs have been so well received each year.

Zinke said this will be a year to celebrate the success story of Amboy’s BookFairs and to invite everyone who has supported them in the past to join the fun one last time. “If they have always wanted to see how our community floods the Rockford store with Amboy people, then this is the year to do it,” she said.

The BookFair will take place from 10 a.m. - 7 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 19. As in the past, Amboy will receive credit for 20 percent of purchases up to $10,000. Once sales go over the $10,000 mark, they receive 25 percent toward the purchase of books for Amboy school libraries.

The BookFair was started by Zinke in 2008 as a way to add books to Amboy’s school library shelves at no cost to the district. Even that very first year, the event was well supported by students and the community and each year it grew larger. Last year, the BookFair resulted in $5,400 in gift card money the district was able to spend on purchasing books for the school libraries.

Many favorite activities will return again this year - free face painting done by students in the AHS Art Club, vocal selections performed by the AHS Chorus at 1 p.m. and free gift wrapping of holiday purchases done by students.

As in the past, the BookFair is not limited to book purchases. Other merchandise at Barnes & Noble such as educational and instructional toys, games, puzzles and DVDs (digital devices, video games, gift cards and subscriptions are not included) also goes toward the total sales for the BookFair and refreshments purchased at Starbuck’s Café will be credited to the total as well (be sure to say you are with the BookFair or give them the school’s ID number, #12239893, when paying).

Friends and family who live across the country can also support the Amboy BookFair by shopping at a Barnes & Noble in their area on Nov. 19. Shoppers may either use a school voucher when checking out at the register or have the school’s ID number (#12239893). No matter where they live, their purchases will count toward the total for Amboy. Visit BN.COM/bookfairs for additional details and to shop online.

Looking back, Zinke said it has been a pleasure working with the staff at the Rockford Barnes & Noble over the past decade, noting that Amboy is their “biggest and favorite” book fair of the year. Although this will be Zinke’s final fundraiser at the Rockford store, she will be able to continue purchasing books for the school district from Barnes & Noble through a BookFair rewards program.

Even with the increasing use of digital in education, Zinke does not believe physical books are becoming obsolete, at least not in the near future. While she acknowledges that some students have access to their own electronic books through their phone, Kindle or B&N Nook, the majority of students still prefer holding a book in their hand.

As for textbooks, Zinke agrees that it makes sense to move toward digital so students have 24/7 access but with libraries, there is a cost factor. “People need to realize how expensive books online are and not every district can afford to subscribe to a service that provides digital books,” she explained. “You still have to pay for the books and they are more expensive than a hardbound copy you pull off the shelf.”

Eye strain is another issue for some people when reading on an electronic device for long periods and others say they simply prefer to hold a book in their hands. “Everyone is different and has different opinions but we will always need libraries and librarians to steer students to the right reference material for their research projects and foster the love of reading,” Zinke said.

Everyone is encouraged to come to Rockford this Sunday from 10 a.m.-7 p.m., start their holiday shopping and experience this fun event in support of Amboy schools. Barnes & Noble is located at CherryVale Mall, 7200 Harrison Ave., Rockford.