Behind the scenes: how Scholastic books get to you!

Feb 27, 2013
A mosiac of different NSO scenes Whether it is a memory from your school days or a present day event with your child, chances are you can easily describe the feeling of excitement when the Scholastic Book Clubs boxes get delivered to the classroom. But have you ever wondered how that box with the familiar red logo got to there? I recently had the privilege of seeing the process firsthand, and it is pretty amazing! The magic happens in Jefferson City, MO where the Scholastic National Service Organization (lovingly nicknamed NSO) houses millions of books and is home to the intricate technology and passionate employees who personally put shipments together. And it isn’t just Book Clubs, it is everything. When I was able to visit the main distribution center, I thought I had an idea of how the process would look – I didn’t. It is so much cooler than I ever imagined! When you enter the building, following the paw prints of Clifford (literally there are red paws guiding you on the floor), you immediately see a conveyor belt filled with boxes being loaded with books by NSO staff. Then you notice, this isn’t a small machine…this is a HUGE conveyor belt that you can’t see the end of. It loops up, down, around, everywhere. It is over four miles long…and it is smart! Thanks to label scanning, it is so smart it shoots boxes in all directions to make sure they end up going to the right location and right team. It even helps Scholastic double-check, confirm, and spot-check orders because it knows how much those books should weigh. If the weight is just a little bit off, our staff grabs it and identifies the issue. Then there’s another building. Yup, there’s still more. This one has forklifts and halls of books that put the images of the Ministry of Magic’s Department of Mysteries to shame. And the books are all in different languages, so for the first time, I was able to truly visualize just how many kids across the globe we reach. I learned that the average delivery point of our shipments is 900 miles away – crazy, right? So what was my favorite part? Obviously, the people. Many of my colleagues there have been working at NSO for decades and are just as passionate about reading as us OOMers. It was a special time to be there too because one of the shipments I was able to witness was for schools and libraries in NY and NJ that were hit hard by Hurricane Sandy. You may recall that we are giving away one million books to those in need…and the truth is, they have to come from somewhere! That “somewhere” is the heart of all Scholastic employees but also the caring hands of our NSO employees and the shelves in Jefferson City. But when did I geek out? It was the packaging tape machine. I kinda want my own! I took a video for you to see. Isn’t it cool?