Lake Forest book bank fuels young readers
Brian Floriani, executive director of Bernie's Book Bank, stands next to his truck off Ballard Drive in Lake Forest. | Michael Schmidt~Sun-Times Media
NAME: Brian Floriani
HOMETOWN: Lake Forest
POSITION: Founder/Executive Director of Bernie’s Book Bank
WORDS TO LIVE BY: “Nothing worth doing is easy.”
Updated: October 21, 2012 1:08PM
LAKE FOREST — He thinks he’s pretty hardheaded and stubborn, but that’s not how others view Brian Floriani, founder and executive director of Bernie’s Book Bank in Lake Forest.
Terri Thompson of Libertyville finds Floriani inspiring and driven.
“Brian is very passionate about the cause — making sure children have access to books,” said the mother of two elementary school daughters she describes as “voracious readers.”
It was through a book drive at her daughters’ school, Copeland Manor in Libertyville, that Thompson first learned that many at-risk children have no access to books, which makes them poor readers.
“I found that disturbing,” she said.
So did Floriani. That’s why in 2008 Floriani left his job as a golf pro to become a reading paraprofessional for Shiloh Park Elementary School in Zion. There, Floriani realized getting books into kids’ hands before they got to school would make a bigger impact on their future.
In 2009, Floriani founded Bernie’s Book Bank in his garage, where he began collecting and redistributing bags of donated children’s books to at-risk kids. He named the organization for his father, who devoted his professional life to promoting literacy.
Today, Bernie’s Book Bank is on track to process and redistribute 1 million children’s books in 2012 alone. Floriani is making strides to grow the model nationally.
“I’m not a gray area kind of person,” he said. “When I do something, I really, really do it.”
Floriani gives it his all, but truly enjoys what he does to connect with the people who donate books, the kids who need them, and a myriad of volunteers from throughout the community who make it all possible.
“A lot of people don’t like what they do, but I love it,” he said. “Hopefully, it’s going to help millions of children.”
Floriani will meld his former career as a professional golfer with his love of books at two simultaneous events to benefit Bernie’s Book Bank. A Book Lovers Brunch will be held from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the Birdies & Books Charity Golf Classic starting at 11:30 a.m. on Friday. Both events will be at the Lake Bluff Golf Club, 355 W. Washington Ave., Lake Bluff.
For information on the events or the organization, go to www.berniesbookbank.org or call (847) 780-7323.