Press Release

October 3, 1997
CONTACT: Tania Vitvitsky, Sabre Foundation (617) 868-3510


One key to aiding development is knowing when to quit . . . and when to continue. In the case of the Czech Republic, the Sabre Foundation is banking on the latter and accordingly is sending a shipment this month of 23,924 new donated books and journals to the republic through its Czech partner, the Center for Democracy and Free Enterprise (CDFE), to be distributed to universities, schools and libraries nationwide.

Sabre's shipment to the Czech Republic includes books from over 50 publishers on medicine, economics, the English language, finance, computer technology, chemistry, management, American literature, communication strategies, marketing, organizational behavior and other business topics. The shipment also contains a substantial number of textbooks and general reading for children of both elementary and secondary school level.

The Sabre Foundation, a non-profit in Cambridge, Mass., bases its continued support on the feedback of donors and recipients alike. Says Prof. Jaroslav Pelikan, past President of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, who recently donated the bulk of his personal library of valuable scholarly literature to a prestigious university in Prague: "Eventually, of course, [the Czechs] will have to be on their own -- and no one is more eager for that to happen than they! But it seems clear to me that this time has not yet come and that they continue to need help."

Sabre has been working for over six years with its Czech partner, CDFE; together they have managed to distribute over 150,000 publications to the Czech people. "There continues to be tremendous demand for books of U.S. origin because of a lack of translated scholarly literature in the Czech Republic and/or very high prices of translated publications," asserts Ladislav Venys, Director of CDFE. Specifically, he says, "The U.S. book donations have contributed a great deal to Czech awareness of other economic and political systems, helped Czech students and scholars learn the latest technologies . . . and generally broadened our scope of view in all kinds of scientific and literary fields."

In Sabre's March shipment to Prague, generous individuals joined Professor Pelikan in donating their own books. Over 500 medical journals were donated by Mary Samal to Dr. Jan Vydra, member of a Czech institute researching cancer and diseases of the lung. Carol Starobin, in memory of her husband Dr. Herman Starobin, donated 2,834 books on economics and history to Charles University. Prof. Pelikan, who is Sterling Professor Emeritus of History at Yale University, gave 1,875 volumes to Charles University "on the rationale that the very years in which I was collecting the books were the years when they largely couldn't."

Sabre has sent almost three million books to people in need from over 50 countries around the world. Previously focusing on college-level and professional materials, Sabre has broadened its procurement efforts to include elementary textbooks, classroom materials and children's books. CD ROMs and reference materials have also been in high demand. Sabre works primarily in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, and has begun to establish new programs in Brazil, Grenada, Ghana, the WestBank/Gaza, and the Historically Black Universities of South Africa.

The collaboration of Sabre and its Czech partner organization in procuring and shipping books was made possible by grants from the United States Information Agency, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the U.S. Agency of International Development's Ocean Freight Reimbursement Program.

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