Guinness world record smashed
Buoyed by a spectacular flood of donations, the Rotary Clubs of Jamaica broke the Guinness world record for the most books collected in seven days. They, in fact, aced the task on the first day - last Saturday - collecting a staggering 270,456 books in nine hours at Emancipation Park in New Kingston.
The previous record was 242,624.
"We had hoped to break the record in seven days, but the overwhelming support from all Jamaicans enabled us to break it in Day One," said Deika Morrison, the project chair and force behind the drive.
"The result really exceeds all of our expectations but, more than anything, it really proves how much we can achieve when we all work together."
At the close of the second day's count yesterday evening, the book tally had climbed to 546,053.
Beyond the Rotary Clubs' record-breaking exploits, its substantive purpose for the book drive is aimed at increasing child literacy rates across Jamaica.
The opening day of the event was centred around a highly successful and well-received Kids' Day that drew a crowd of approximately 400 people.
Day One drew a total of 64 volunteers (predominantly from the Jamaica Library Service, the primary recipients of the book drive).
Sunday's events were led by Digicel, which was not only a huge supporter of the drive, donating $1 million to buy books earmarked specially for Haiti, but also providing WiMAX in the park, which enabled the groups to stream all events at Emancipation Park live on the Internet at http://realvibez.tv/rotaryracetoliteracy/.
"Yes, this is an incredible amount of books. This project has now moved beyond just breaking the record, but really collecting as many books as possible so that every Jamaican on the island will be able to benefit from our efforts and enjoy the importance of reading," said Morrison.
The collection will continue all week, with the clock stopping at 9 a.m. on Saturday.