History & Future

BookSpring’s Journey (1974 – Present)

BookSpring emerged in 1974 as “Friends of Reading is Fundamental of Austin” (RIF of Austin), a beacon of literacy in Central Texas. Born from the dream of volunteer doctors and librarians, it has flourished into an essential lifeline for underprivileged families, illuminating the path to literacy for countless children.

In 2008, we turned a new leaf by merging with Capitol Area Reach Out and Read (CAROR), evolving into BookSpring. This pivotal merger broadened our horizons and intensified our influence, propelling us forward in our crusade for childhood literacy.

With a narrative defined by growth, innovation, and steadfast commitment, BookSpring stands as a pivotal chapter in the story of Texas literacy, stewarded by a passionate Board of Directors, a dedicate team of staff and volunteers, and empowered by a community united for change.

Landmarks in Book Access: BookSpring’s Major Achievements

  • 1974: Birth of a vision as Reading is Fundamental is launched in Austin schools with 3 books per child.
  • 1989: Nonprofit status cements our mission as a book access provider and literacy promoter.
  • 2000: Parent Book Club launches, bringing families together through reading.
  • 2008: BookSpring emerges from the merger and begins distributing books to medical clinics.
  • 2015: Books for Me and ReadWell programs extend beyond Austin, sowing seeds of literacy across Central Texas.
  • 2016: Open Book program partners with dozens of community allies, spreading our wings further.
  • 2017: Partnership with Andy Roddick Foundation shows supports larger number of books per child (at least 6 per year).
  • 2018: The annual Reading Survey is established as an insight for monitoring book ownership and reading in our population.
  • 2019:  A strong focus on increasing equity leads to new partnerships and a commitment to increase diverse books.
  • 2020: A 3-year study confirms the significant impact of the 6 books per year programs with improved reading scores.
  • 2021: Books Beginning at Birth for families with young children takes off with a commitment to five years per child.
  • 2022: A home for hope, as we acquire permanent headquarters and celebrate the distribution of 2 million books.
  • 2023: Honored with the Greater Austin Nonprofit Impact and US Library of Congress Best Practices in Literacy Awards.
  • 2024:  Evaluations show a 16% increase in oral language proficiency in participating young children after one year.

These milestones are more than just accolades; they are the pillars supporting our bridge to the future—a future where every Texan child can hold the power of literacy in their hands, and where families are united by the stories they share.

Each step forward on this timeline marks a stride towards an empowered community where literacy is the birthright of every child, no matter their background. Join us as we continue to write this ongoing story, where every page turned is a new opportunity for learning, growth, and connection through the joy of reading.

Key Leadership

Board Presidents of BookSpring have been, in order:  Michelle Walker-Moak, Heather Burton, Susan Patterson, Judge Amy Clark Meachum, Joan Wabschall, Beth Hallmark, Chris Randazzo, Ann Gass, Suresh Pawah, Drew Schertz, Jillian Bergman, Michelle Bourianoff, Madison Jechow, and Lindsey Stuart. Executive Directors have been Mindy Gomillion, Mary Hernon, Joan Wabschall, and Emily Ball Cicchini.

Where We’re Going – Towards 6 Books for 5 Years per Child

BookSpring aims to spread our vision across Texas though Books Beginning at Birth, and continues to operate the Books for Me and ReadWell programs, Open Book and BookSpring Days, as well as our home grown Family Book Clubs.  We support parents with at home reading resources like Bibi’s Weekly Themes and Parent Tips. are continuing to monitor the growth of digital reading, and meeting parent and caregiver requests for e-books through our growing Digital Library and Mobile App.  Also, we are inviting the community to create Texas themed, bi-lingual children’s books to share through BookSpring Originals. We continue to iterate and innovate our programs in response to our families’ requests and changing available resources.  While we may not be able to commit to 6 books for 5 years for all children served (yet!), this mix of short term and long-term programs fulfill the original vision to promote reading and and provide general book access where it’s most needed.

We continue to look for best practices in the book access field, to build from our rich history, and keep an eye towards the future: one full of children and families with meaningful interpersonal connections and an abundance of well-loved books!

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