July 13, 2011

Book maven Nancy Pearl endows Information School scholarship

Nancy Pearl

Nancy Pearl

Nancy Pearl is a bookard, a bibliomaniac — happy to be so and desirous that others become so. In that spirit, she and her husband, Joseph Pearl, have endowed a UW scholarship for Information School students who intend to become librarians.

“The library profession has been incredibly generous to me. Ive gotten to meet people and do things I never imagined I would,” Pearl said in a recent interview. Shes the author of seven volumes about good reads, including Book Lust: Recommended Reading for Every Mood, Moment, and Reason, published in 2003.

“I couldnt have gone to graduate school in library science at the University of Michigan without a scholarship,” said 66-year-old Pearl, who was named librarian of the year by Library Journal this past January. She retired in 2004 as executive director of Seattle Public Librarys Washington Center for the Book. In 1998, Pearl founded “If All Seattle Read the Same Book,” a program which has been adopted by other cities around the country.  She also discusses books on Morning Edition on National Public Radio.

At the UW, Pearl teaches two courses in adult reader services — or as she describes it, “how to put people together with good books.” Seeing student excitement about helping library patrons connect with good books helped trigger the scholarship, Pearl said.

Awareness of tuition and student debt also played a part in Pearls decision. Because of budget constraints, the UW master of library and information science program is now fee-based and self-sustaining. Full-time tuition is $19,500, a $6,000 increase for Washington residents and a $9,500 decrease for nonresidents.

The $25,000 Pearl endowment will result in a $1,000 scholarship to be awarded annually. “I hope the endowment grows over time so that eventually it will cover a years worth of tuition,” Pearl said. Those wishing to contribute to the Nancy Pearl Endowment for Public Librarianship can make a gift online. All gifts are tax-deductible and will benefit future public librarians.

So whats she doing now that shes retired? She just continues reading, as she says, “for the sheer wonderment of it all.”

For more on Pearl, visit her website.