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CEHS Expertise Helps Literary Nonprofit Fulfill its Mission

Monday, Dec. 02, 2013

Jairo Hernandez Velasquez
Jairo Hernandez Velasquez, a database administrator at the Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services, offered his expertise for a project located more than 2000 miles away.

Judith’s Reading Room, a nonprofit organization based in Lehigh Valley, Penn., is dedicated to “spreading the word of freedom through literacy.” The group provides custom libraries and book carts to people and communities with limited access to books.


Those services have set up 58 libraries in 11 countries and six states, using a network of 945 volunteers and $639,000 worth of donated reading material.


But volunteers had a tough time knowing what was in their inventory — which made it hard to provide a customized library.


Judith’s Reading Room President Cathy Lieber approached Jairo Hernandez Velasquez for help. He is a database administrator at the Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services, located more than 2000 miles away from Lehigh Valley.


With Velasquez as project lead, the college provided a database solution and the time needed to reengineer it to the reading room’s needs.


The solution came from The Young Education and Technology Center at the college. The YETC also had a large inventory to keep track of — and it had developed its own cataloging system. YETC director Nathan Smith faced a similar challenge years ago when the library’s collection was first created. Smith developed his own database, and one of his students later revamped it.


Velasquez asked Smith if they could use the system, then went on to customize it for Judith’s Reading Room.


The result helps the nonprofit track what books come in and go out of its collections. The solution can grow as the organization does.


“It allows them to inventory everything with a push of a button, really,” Velasquez said.


The system uses a scanner to scan the ISBN, which looks it up on Google and then returns the information about the book. The total cost was about $200.


“We are excited to see our custom product create an impact outside of Utah State University,” Velasquez said. “It’s a very compelling mission, and to volunteer for them, it matches what the College of Education and Human Services is all about.”


Judith’s Reading Room began cataloging its vast inventory at the end of November.


Related link:

USU Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services


Writer: JoLynne Lyon, 435-797-1463

Contact: Jairo Hernandez Velasquez, 435-797-8652,  jairo.hernandez@usu.edu

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