Bookseller Relief Fund Board Establishes Guidelines for Assistance

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On Tuesday, September 20, the Bookseller Relief Fund (BRF) Board convened via conference call to establish administrative guidelines and a process for distribution of monies from the fund, which was established by ABA in response to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. The BRF will provide emergency humanitarian relief to those working in the retail book industry who have been adversely affected by a natural disaster or another significant event.

The Board, which is composed of past ABA presidents, as well as current ABA President Mitchell Kaplan -- agreed that funds will be granted for humanitarian relief to individuals to cover such items as temporary housing, food, clothing, transportation, medical expenses, and/or other personal items lost or damaged. The funds will not be granted for rebuilding a business.

While the Board acknowledged that the Fund was being established as a permanent entity to assist victims of emergency situations beyond the current crisis, it recognized the need to move as quickly and as expeditiously as possible to provide immediate assistance to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Accordingly, the Board agreed to a two-phase relief process:

In Phase One, any employees (who worked for 25 hours or more a week) in any retail bookselling entity located within the federally declared disaster area will be eligible to receive a one-time $500 grant if they provide (by October 15, 2005) their name; their current address, phone number, and e-mail address; the name and address of the store where they worked, as well as the name of the store's owner or their immediate supervisor. In addition, booksellers applying for funds must submit a statement affirming that they are no longer being paid by the store where they worked. (A form to apply for a grant may be downloaded in PDF format and mailed or faxed to the BRF, or applications may be submitted electronically at www.bookweb.org/read/8126.)

Under Phase Two of the Relief Fund effort, a subcommittee of the BRF Board will review more expansive requests for assistance from the owners of bookstores within the federally declared disaster area based on a more detailed statement of need.

All necessary documentation for relief from the fund should be sent to the attention of ABA's special projects manager, David Walker [by mail to Bookseller Relief Fund, c/o ABA, 200 White Plains Rd., Tarrytown, NY 10591; by fax to (914) 591-2720; or by e-mail to davidw@bookweb.org].

Past ABA presidents who participated in the first Bookseller Relief Fund Board conference call were Ann Christophersen, Neal Coonerty, Avin Mark Domnitz, Joyce Meskis, Chuck Robinson, Rhett Jackson, Gail See, Joan Ripley, and Dick Noyes. Serving on the Phase Two subcommittee are Christophersen, Coonerty, and Ripley, with Kaplan serving ex-officio.

In response to the Board's recognition of the need for timely fund-raising efforts, ABA is encouraging all member stores to join together on Saturday, October 1, to donate a percentage of their sales (to be determined by the individual store) to the Bookseller Relief Fund. Watch for more details in an ABA News Flash on Friday, September 23.