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BYU students and administrators are beginning to collect 40,000 books for literature-starved Romania.

In a university-wide effort, the collection drive will include various campus activities through April 26. Preparation of the materials for shipping will continue through May 17.Paul Jordan, library administrator in charge of the project, said the Central University Library in Bucharest has asked for books printed within the past 10 years. However, the library will accept literary books, history books and books in the fine arts with any publication date. It will also accept periodicals.

The Romania library project came about after an article appeared in the Deseret News. Hack Miller, retired sports editor, was traveling through Romania with his wife and others a few months before Nicolae Ceausescu was overthrown as Romania's president.

During Miller's visit, his tour guide expressed a deep need for educational materials. A fire during an upheaval in December 1989 destroyed many valuable collections of books and periodicals.

The tour guide said, "Please, if you have any materials written in English that you do not need, would you let me have them? We are without reading materials in our country. Just anything. Even gum wrappers if they have English written on them. Newspapers, magazines, books - anything!"

After seeing the Deseret News article, an emeritus BYU communications professor, George S. Barrus, and Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Council of the Twelve encouraged BYU to sponsor the project.

In a letter written to BYU Provost Bruce Hafen, the director of the Central University Library in Bucharest, said, "The news that the students of BYU are willing to make an effort to help us in restoring the collections of books and periodicals has touched us deeply. It is a noble and generous act, which proves once more that the youth all over the world have common ideals and are eager for truth and beauty."

The Harold B. Lee Library will donate 3,000 to 5,000 books to the project from its duplicate collections and additional materials.

Church leaders in Europe are expected to pick up the shipment of books after it arrives and present the books to the Central University Library in Bucharest.