Convention book drive sets Guinness world record
From left: Danny Girton Jr., adjudicator for Guinness World Records, RI President Wilfrid J. Wilkinson, and Ingo Werk, of the Rotary Club of Wilmington, California. Monika Lee/Rotary Images
Rotarians at the 2008 RI Convention demonstrated their commitment to literacy by setting a Guinness world record for the most books donated during a seven-day period. Exactly 242,624 books were collected this week for public school students in Southern California and Southern Nevada.
Danny Girton Jr., an adjudicator for Guinness World Records, confirmed that Rotary now owns the record for Most Books Donated in Seven Days at the final plenary session on Wednesday.
“This record demonstrated careful planning, creativity, and a true commitment from the heart,” Girton told the audience. “We applaud your efforts and welcome you to the Guinness World Records family.”
Ingo Werk, of the Rotary Club of Wilmington, California, who chaired the project, joined Girton on stage to thank and congratulate Rotarians for achieving such a meaningful record. “Rotary’s commitment to literacy is a commitment with love, not only for our society at large but especially for our children. Love is all you need -- to read.”
The book drive, cosponsored by the Los Angeles Times Reading by 9 program, will benefit public school students in kindergarten through grade 3 in the region, where studies show too many children read below grade level.
At the convention, a symbolic “mountain of books” display provided a backdrop for reading sessions allowing Rotarians, celebrities, and other notables to read to students visiting on field trips.
Project organizers set a goal of collecting a quarter of a million books. Convention registrants from more than 140 countries brought books representing their home cultures and languages.
“Everyone here embraced this book drive, and I could not be more proud of our Rotary clubs and more grateful for the support we received from the public,” said Werk.
Guinness World Records receives more than 60,000 applications a year from people hoping for recognition. Of those, only 3 percent set world records.
Watch a video about the book drive.