The end of each year is a time for many traditions, from caroling to trimming the tree to making a gingerbread house to pausing to give thanks, and the East Carolina University Master of Library Science program has developed and added its own tradition to the mix by annually completing a Holiday Book Drive. For ten years, the ECU American Library Association (ALA) Student Chapter has completed a book drive to help put over 25,000 books in the hands of willing but needy readers throughout North Carolina. The ECU MLS students take advantage of the fact they study in a Distance Education program and spread the good cheer of charitable literacy throughout several communities in the region.
Over 5,800 books were collected and donated to non-profit organizations, church programs for struggling families, schools, shelters, daycares, and food pantries.
This December, the ECU MLS program saw its faculty, current students, and alumni to work jointly in efforts to complete these collections. Many of the MLS students and alumni used the Annual Book Drive as an opportunity to include students in collection and donation, helping incorporate character education into school programs.
Kevin Vickers, an ECU alumnus and the librarian of Sun Valley Elementary in Monroe, NC, coordinated with a fourth grade teacher in his school to collect over 300 books and donate them to Turning Point of Union County, a shelter for victims of domestic abuse. Ever aware of the importance of technology and social media, Mr. Vickers posted information about the drive on his school’s Facebook site and watched the donations pour in. Parents and students asked if they could turn in books for all ages, and Vickers enthusiastically agreed. He excitedly reported that plenty of children and adult women were finding their reading needs met through the collection, and, asking “how cool is that?,” he was ecstatic to find several of the donations were in Spanish.
Kimberly Marone, the media coordinator of Holly Tree Elementary in Wilmington, NC, gathered over 125 titles as she and her students donated books to a local church program that provides services to families facing hardships. These books provide welcome relief and diversions in troubling times, as the gift of literacy and the opportunity for continued reading is an ever-welcome present.
Vanessa Taylor, a librarian currently completing her MLS through ECU, oversaw a donation project run by a Boy Scout throughout Onslow County. While her school (Dixon Elementary) donated over 200 books, the entire drive throughout the county brought in 4,700 total volumes. The young man clearly earned his merit badge by creating and maintaining fourteen collection sites around Jacksonville and Sneads Ferry and donating them to the Onslow County Partnership for Children. As Ms. Taylor said, his work was “quite amazing.”
Knowing that one of the strongest ways to support and increase literacy is within the community, with students helping students, Mary Tobin and her colleagues and students at Topsail Middle School collected 300 “gently used books” to donate to their local elementary schools. This middle school project proved and supported the idea that it takes a village, as older students gave the gift of reading to younger ones.
Hugh Davis, an MLS student in ECU’s program and an English teacher at CS Brown High School in Winton, NC, turned to his school’s Literary and Beta Clubs to complete the drive. Though CS Brown is a small school, with only 52 students this year, it collected 400 books and donated them to the Baptist Children’s Home. This shelter was selected by the students, who felt empowered through the process. Davis, the ECU ALA Chapter President, said that working alongside the students made the process even more meaningful, and he was thrilled to see the students take the initiative to research an appropriate donation site and to organize and coordinate their community’s efforts.
Not to be outdone or left out, the ECU MLS faculty continued their tradition of contributing to the Annual Book Drive by collecting and donating 19 books the Little Willie Center in Greenville, NC.
While many traditions abound at this time of year, one of the most rewarding is definitely the ECU MLS program’s Annual Book Drive. The ALA Chapter counts this year as a success and hopes to have as much participation next year.
Hugh Davis, President
ECU American Library Association Student Chapter