The Guinness World Record-Breaking Book Pyramid
By Darrin Utynek | March 11, 2019

A Guinness World Record Empowered with Zebra Technology

The 144,000 books used to build pyramid represent the towering impact that Bernie’s Books is making on the lives of Chicagoland children

When Zebra Technologies contacted us and asked if they could send over a group of Zebra volunteers to help Bernie’s Book Bank dismantle our 144,000, 10.6-foot, 35-ton, WORLD RECORD BREAKING book pyramid, we quickly accepted!  They enjoyed an up close, personal look at a Guinness World Record, and a first-hand view of how Zebra’s technology is improving the front-line performance of our organization.

Constructed over three days in July 2018, the 144,000 books used to make the pyramid – represents the 144 books Bernie’s Book Bank gives to each of the 300,000 at-risk Chicagoland children it serves. In the U.S., 61% of low-income homes do not have any books for their children. Breaking the Guinness World Record was a great way to draw attention to the importance of book ownership and early literacy in children’s lives.

Our mission is to provide 12 age-appropriate books per year to empower at-risk children to read their way to a better life. Bernie’s Book Bank sources, processes and distributes quality children’s books to significantly increase book ownership among at-risk infants, toddlers and school-age children throughout Chicagoland. Since 2009, Bernie’s Book Bank has distributed 14.1 million quality books with the help of key partners like Zebra.

Zebra wholeheartedly supports our mission and has donated its time, talent, resources and technology to streamline operations, so we can focus on what’s important – bringing books to underserved children.

Bernie’s Book Bank hosts 72,000 volunteer hours annually to sort, sticker and pack the quality books. Previously, Bernie’s Book Bank volunteers would sort the books by looking at a few pages and assess its reading level and then categorize it properly. By utilizing Zebra scanning technology, volunteers can now scan many of the books to increase efficiency and accuracy while sorting books for distribution.

Zebra also donates the stickers used to label and brand the 3.5 million quality books that Bernie’s Book Bank distributes annually. With additional financial support and volunteer hours from Zebra employees, our work together makes a difference in the lives of the children we serve.  

As Therese Van Ryne, Zebra Global PR Director, states, “At Zebra, we believe in doing well by doing good. By helping Bernie’s Book Bank build their efficiencies in what they do, they can do even more for their local communities, and we’re proud to be a part of that.”

Watch the whole story here:

Editor’s Note: Zebra’s work with Bernie’s Book Bank is just one more way that the company is delivering a performance edge to the front line of business…and helping kids along the way! Tune into the blog for more upcoming Stories from the Edge.

Know someone who helps Zebra deliver a performance edge or heard a great story from the front line? Email us at We’d love to hear from you!

Inside Zebra Nation, Corporate Social Responsibility,
Darrin Utynek
Darrin Utynek

Darrin Utynek is the first Chief Executive Officer of Bernie’s Book Bank. Prior to joining the team as CEO, Darrin served as Chief Operating Officer of the American Red Cross. His responsibilities included business operations of the Chicago and Northern Illinois Region, the fourth largest region in the country. Prior to that, he served with the Habitat Company, a national property management and development company where he was responsible for strategic planning and the reorganization of business operations in Atlanta, St. Louis and Chicago.

Darrin also spent nine years with the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago. At the YMCA, he served as Senior Director of Risk Management for seven years and was a Director of Operations for a branch for the previous three years. In addition, he served as an interim Executive Director at a branch and was responsible for rebuilding its board and leadership.

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