Carol Jacobson, an owner of Downtown Books, has been named a recipient of the 2009 Celebrate Literacy Award, an honor handed out by the Colorado Council of the International Reading Association. Jacobson, one of two award winners statewide, traces her love of reading back to the influence of a Moffat County librarian in her youth and to her mother.

Photo by Hans Hallgren

Carol Jacobson, an owner of Downtown Books, has been named a recipient of the 2009 Celebrate Literacy Award, an honor handed out by the Colorado Council of the International Reading Association. Jacobson, one of two award winners statewide, traces her love of reading back to the influence of a Moffat County librarian in her youth and to her mother.

Local bookstore owner to be awarded for promoting literacy

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At a glance

• Local bookstore owner is one of two state literacy award winners.

• Reading Association to honor Carol Jacobson on Thursday in Denver.

• Nominating teacher: Literacy "alive and well" thanks to her

• Jacobson: It's about creating "opportunities"

Trace it back, and it's easy to find where Carol Valera Jacobson, Downtown Books owner and a soon-to-be honored award recipient, first acquired what has been a lifelong love of the printed word.

It was born before she was a teenager, from the steadying influence of two women - a Moffat County librarian and her mother, Loita Mauer, of Hayden.

"She read a book a day," Jacobson said about her mother.

And about the librarian:

"She encouraged me to read way, way beyond my reading level at the time," the bookstore owner said.

From those planted seeds, Jacobson has spent a lifetime reading, writing and promoting those two activities in her local community. It is the latter for which she will be honored with an award Thursday in Denver.

The Colorado Council of the International Reading Association has named Jacobson a 2009 Celebrate Literacy Award winner. She is one of two in the state, and she will be honored during a ceremony Thursday morning in Denver.

Jacobson, 54, originally of Hayden, described her reaction to learning she'd won.

"My first response was, 'They didn't have anyone else to pick,'" she said, laughing. "Then I decided I was just going to go there, be grateful and say thank you."

If Jacobson is humble, if not self-deprecating, regarding her efforts, the person who nominated her isn't.

"Literacy is alive and well, thanks to Carol Jacobson," said Debbie Frazier, a Craig Intermediate School teacher.

"Craig is blessed to have an active entrepreneur such as Carol Jacobson, who promotes literacy in our community. She inspires the young and old alike to enjoy and to value literacy, making literacy a fun and an important lifelong practice."

A Colorado State University graduate, Jacobson worked in bookstores and as a teacher on the Front Range for more than three decades before moving in May 2005 to Craig. She was a newspaper reporter and editor until February 2006, when she opened a small, cozy 500-square-foot bookstore in Serendipity Coffee Shop.

In October 2007, the bookstore relocated across the street to its current 700-square foot location, 543 Yampa Ave. She co-owns the store with Caroline Dotson, of Craig.

"I thought, and still think, that a town without a bookstore is a very sad community," Jacobson said.

However, she wanted more than just a business. She wanted a cause.

"It wasn't enough to be a store owner," she said. "I wanted to encourage people to read, and think, and grow, and all that jazz."

Through the store, a reading headquarters of sorts, thousands of books are moved each year, many of them without profit as the motivation.

More than 500 new and used books are ordered specifically for customers who requested them, and thousands more are given away.

"We're constantly moving books in and moving books out," she said, "trying to find them new homes."

Jacobson said her store donates books to libraries, hospitals, schools, senior citizen centers and jails.

One year, she recalled, she donated 20 boxes of books that had to be loaded on a school bus to be sent to Baggs, Wyo.

The store also sponsors various poetry and essay contests, and Jacobson further adds to the literacy cause by promoting reading in elementary schools and teaching memoir writing, oral history and English classes in her spare time.

The award from the Reading Association is nice, Jacobson said, but it pales to the satisfaction she earns by passing on the literacy love someone gave her early in life.

"It's because (I) love books and (I) want people to read them," she explained. "It's not a financial pay off - it's an emotional pay off.

"It's about being able to help the world," she added, "and create opportunities."

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