An innovative program for Arkansas students, BASE sends books on Arkansas history (natural, political, and cultural) to high schools for free.

Schools are allotted points on the basis of economic need, and donations fund the books they buy with those points. Find more information at the website.

Available books range from Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee : An Indian History of the American West, by Dee Brown, to Two centuries of Methodism in Arkansas : 1800-2000, by Nancy Britton. Poetry and fiction are also offered, in a list including authors like Philip Martin, Ellen Gilchrist, Donald Harington, and Jack Butler along with less familiar names.

Where’s the innovation here? After all, we’re just talking about books — nothing new in that. What’s innovative is the problem solving and the use of technology to solve the problem. The average Arkansas high school owns very few books on Arkansas history, and it can be hard for media specialists at the schools even to find appropriate books.

BASE, supported by the Butler Center, home of the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture, allows those who care about the topic to donate money to fund book purchases online without special knowledge or uncertainty about how to identify the right schools. Donors are secure in the knowledge that the funds will be used for useful books by schools that need the help. It’s a simple, even elegant solution.