Navajo Nation librarian was given top honors recently for his contributions
to literacy on the 27,000-square-mile reservation.
Nelson, who serves as library program supervisor of the Navajo Nation,
was selected from a pool of more than 500 librarians worldwide for
the title of Librarian of the Year for 2010.
to Reader, a nonprofit organization based at Amherst College in
Amherst, Mass., honored Nelson for his more than three decades of
advocating for literacy on the reservation.
Nelson is an extraordinary individual," said David Mazor, executive
director of Reader to Reader. "His dedication to his library
and the citizens that use it is unsurpassed."
began his career driving a bookmobile on the reservation's rural
roads. He also is credited with building an American Indian collection
that includes 11,000 books, oral history tapes and land-claim records
dating to 1675.
works from the Nation's Window Rock, Ariz., capital, where he oversees
more than 76,000 books.
of the Nation's books have come from donations, Nelson said. During
his tenure as a librarian, he has received and cataloged tens of
thousands of titles.
great," he said of his job. "I've traveled a lot to pick
up books for the libraries."
made headlines in November after Reader to Reader collected 70 tons
of books, totaling about 10,000 titles, for the Nation. Nelson flew
to Massachusetts and drove a loaded rental van packed with the books
back to Window Rock.
2,300-mile journey came after two Amherst College students and one
professor spent time on the Navajo Nation. Seeing the empty shelves
in the library, the trio decided to tap into the Reader to Reader
organization and fill in the gaps.
a professor of Tai Chi, Quigong meditation and exercise, founded
the nonprofit in 2002 to help provide books to schools that needed
them. His goal is to stock Navajo Nation libraries with 100,000
books and 100 computers.
plans to make a second cross-country trip sometime this summer to
collect an additional 10,000 books.
books, a lot of them we deliver to chapter houses, to detention
centers, to smaller libraries across the reservation," he said.
received a plaque honoring his status as 2010 Librarian of the Year.