A group of Youngstown State University faculty and staff in Maag Library are finding ways to recycle within the library to give underprivileged students a chance to turn their own pages.
Angela Messenger, Writing Center coordinator, and Karen Becker, Reading and Study Skills coordinator, teamed up with the Room of Requirement and Friends of Maag, made up of alumni and employees at YSU, to start a book drive during the recent English Festival.
The Waste Free Maag book drive experienced so much success that Messenger and Becker decided to extend the book collection through Earth Day week on campus.
“We’ve had phenomenal results,” Becker said. “The Room of Requirement was able to help because of their connection to young adult literature and ‘Harry Potter’ books.”
Messenger said local high school and middle school libraries gave discarded books to the students to bring in during the three-day English Festival. A total of 1,683 books were collected.
Since late March, another 226 books have been donated to Maag
“We also separated gently used and brand new books to donate to First Book Mahoning Valley,” Messenger said. “That organization gives new books to children who would otherwise not own a book.”
Messenger said she believes the first book hits home for a new reader.
“There is some type of pride that comes along with owning your own book,” she said. “You’re the first person to open the book and put your name in it.”
The Beatitude House on Fifth Avenue took 400 books to fill their bookshelves. Extra books were donated to the Girard and Liberty Rotary clubs.
While only 25 of 200 schools participated in the book drive, Becker said she was pleasantly surprised by the students’ dedication.
“It was so neat because it happened so fast. The teachers came to Kilcawley Center with their students, and every sophomore had bags of books to drop off,” she said. “So it became part of their culture now. We’ll do this every year now, and that’s why we’re so excited.”
Messenger said she believes that teachers and the competition motivated students. She added that college students are welcome to donate all year.
“If some of these college students say, ‘Well, I’ve got some books at home, and I’m not reading them. I’ve enjoyed these books and loved them, and I’d like for someone else to enjoy them, too,’” Messenger said. “And if they feel they’re kind of past that young adult literature age, we can get [books] to people who need them, rather than books ending up in the trash or in yard sales.”
Waste Free Maag also aimed to use recyclable paper bags with handles during the English Festival.
In a society where the popularity of e-readers is growing, Messenger said she still finds importance in
“Even still, people talk about the smell of the book or the feel of turning the pages,” she said. “There’s even something about holding the book, or even to look at the bookshelf filled with books you’ve read.”
“Getting a real book into a student’s hands, who may not receive a book otherwise, generates that love for books,” Becker said.
Messenger and Becker both wanted to focus on collecting children’s books instead of textbooks.
“Even if the childrens’ books are 50 years old, they may be classic or still have a good story,” Messenger said. “They are always going to be timely, unlike a big, outdated encyclopedia. There still is an audience for these books.”