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Pages receive Mercer Island Rotary service award
This is a tale of the people behind “The Little Book Store That Could.” In an age when books are being replaced by digital communications and independent bookstores fall to national chains, Roger and Nancy Page, proprietors of Island Books, have created an oasis for reading — a strong value on Mercer Island.
From 34 nominations, the pair was chosen as 2010 Mercer Island Rotary Citizen Achievement awardees, to receive the honor at the June 8 Mercer Island Rotary meeting at the Community Center at Mercer View.
The Pages promote reading and writing by providing special book nights for groups and donating a portion of proceeds to their causes. They hold readings and signings long after the shop closes; shepherd multiple book clubs, writing contests, and the biggest midnight masquerade party on the Island in 2005 to celebrate a Harry Potter book release.
In the spirit of Rotary, they partnered with the Mercer Island Rotary, King County Library System, National Endowment for the Arts, City of Mercer Island, MI School District and Rainier Valley schools to achieve “The Big Read” in 2009. The task was daunting: circulate 1,500 copies of “The Call of the Wild” to city and school employees, Mercer Island and Aki Kurose Middle School students, Rotary Club members and families, and beyond. The idea was to “catch and release” — read and pass it on.
Island Books arranged an Open Book Club with stories by Amy Anderson, great-granddaughter of the original owner of Buck, the dog that is the central character in “Call of the Wild. The famous 1903 tale of the Yukon helped celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Alaska-Yukon Exposition, the gold rush and frontier life.
“Roger and Nancy Page helped keep the flow of books in circulation after school superintendent Gary Plano issued the first 100 copies to schools,” said Sue Sherwood, sparkplug for the Mercer Island Big Read.
The Pages’ “home for readers” began about two decades ago — the last five as partner-proprietors of Island Books, as well as being parents to Emma and Lewis and trekking from their home in Ballard every day. The shop was founded in 1973 by Lola Deane.
The Pages’ spirit of service doesn’t go unnoticed. When her school class was asked to share “favorite places on Earth,” student Alanna Kleiner, daughter of local author Susan Kleiner, answered “Island Books.”
The MI Rotary Citizen Achievement Award began in 1992 to honor those who contribute significantly to the well-being of the community, and exemplify the Rotary ideals of honesty, integrity, compassion, generosity and a selfless drive to help others. In recent years, it went to Erica Hill, high school English teacher and running coach; Marguerite Sutherlund, civic and environmental leader, Edna and Chris Berger, senior program volunteers; John Gordon Hill, activist for Youth Theatre Northwest; the late Gwen Lewis, for outreach to troubled teens; Farmers New World Life’s Service Club, for their collective volunteerism on MI.