By Shirley Lewton
For the Hollywood Star News
The co-owners of Broadway Books, Roberta Dyer and Sally McPherson, are thrilled to be launching their annual school “adoption” book drive on December 1. This will be their third year of sponsoring Roosevelt High School and working with Betsy Tighe, the school’s librarian. The book drives have been an annual event for a number of years and have included several schools throughout the Portland area.
Dyer said she and McPherson chose to continue to work with Tighe because of her extraordinary dedication.
“She is so willing to go out of her way,” said Dyer. “I think when you make a commitment to one place you can do a bigger job.”
Broadway Books customers are given a 20 percent discount on books they buy for donation during the December event. If they choose to give money, the store adds 20 percent to their donation.
“I wish that all bookstores in Portland could use Broadway Books as a model,” Tighe said. “They have found a way of making a connection between businesses and schools.”
Tighe said she was impressed by the bookstore when she attended a reading there three years ago. She wrote an appeal letter, and her school was chosen as a site to receive donations.
“Their generosity allows me to build a relationship with my readers,” Tighe said. “There is not a real strong habit of reading here, which is why it’s so important to have a librarian as an advocate for the students and their connections with books.”
Due to funding issues, Tighe’s position as librarian has been reduced to half time, and she has seen a drop in book circulation at the Roosevelt library since her hours were cut back. That is one reason she hopes to receive donations that will allow her to purchase book sets this year.
“We have the need for literature sets for use in the classroom, especially books in Spanish as we now have a language immersion program here,” she said. Language immersion programs provide instruction in two languages with the ultimate goal of educating students to be able to speak, read and write in two languages. Portland Public Schools has a number of schools that offer dual-language immersion programs from kindergarten to twelfth grade.
During a book reading at Broadway Books on November 7, author Stevan Allred spoke of the adoption program before reading from his new book, A Simplified Map of the Real World. “I participated in the Writers in the Schools program and worked at Roosevelt High School,” he said. “It’s a wonderful place. The students are trying hard to figure out how to get where they want to be.” He also noted that there are more than twenty languages spoken there. The Writers in the Schools program trains local writers to work with high school students.
Broadway Books frequently hosts evening book readings with local authors.
“We have always thought of Broadway Books as a community resource,” said Dyer. “We try to make our store a place where people come for events and celebrations. We both live in the neighborhood. Shopping local is important. Returning customers have turned into friends and I’m proud of that and happy to be here.”
Roberta Dyer and Gloria Borg Olds had both been in the book-selling business for a number of years before they got together and opened Broadway Books back in 1992. Olds retired from ownership thirteen years later; and in 2007 Sally McPherson became a partner. Her technological skills have enriched the business, which now has an easily navigated and highly informative website. Patrons can find Broadway Books on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and can purchase eBooks, Kobo eReaders and shop on line as well. Dyer is excited about the technological infusion into the business but notes that people are still buying books from their store.
“People want to read authentic books; it’s a sort of digital backlash,” she said. “There has been a resurgence of independent booksellers in the past couple of years.”
Broadway Books will be one of 25 local businesses participating in Ladies Night Out on December 4. The event is sponsored by the Northeast Broadway Business Association; participating businesses will feature holiday deals, events and refreshments from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. McPherson and Dyer also are looking forward to the yearlong centennial celebration of poet William Stafford’s birth. Stafford was an award-winning poet who spent much of his life in Oregon.