A University-wide book drive to benefit children ages four to 14 in the surrounding Harlem public schools is currently underway. Columbia faculty, staff and students are encouraged to donate new and used books for pre-K through 8th grade readers through April 5.
Drop-off bins are located in the University Bookstore at Lerner Hall and the Teachers College Bookstore at 120th and Amsterdam, Bank Street Bookstore at Broadway and 112th is also accepting donations at the front desk. To support the drive, all bookstores are offering a 20 percent discount for books purchased and donated on site.
New and used books in all disciplines and subjects are needed for neighboring pre-K and elementary schools, P.S. 36 and P.S. 125, at 122nd and 123rd and Amsterdam, and IS195, a middle school about 10 blocks north of campus, where recent Columbia graduates with the Columbia Urban Educators at Teachers College Program now teach. In addition to donations of classic fiction, non-fiction, photo collections, atlases, special dictionaries and other resources, multi-cultural literature and books popular with youth today, like Harry Potter, are encouraged.
"The students will benefit from this book drive because it will give them the opportunity to interact with more books," said Martha Sparks, a Columbia graduate and new middle-school teacher with IS 195, who is a participant with Columbia Urban Educators at Teachers College. In her first few months of teaching, Sparks has noted that children learn to read by reading. "More exposure to books, I think, can inspire students to read," said Sparks.
Officials from school district 5 say there is a need to augment collections in libraries and teachers in the schools say that need extends to classroom collections, which in many cases are created out of the ingenuity of individual teachers who want to provide better access to class-time and leisure reading.
This year's book drive builds on Human Resources' efforts last year, which resulted in more than 500 books donated by the Columbia community to the Everybody Wins/Columbia Power Lunch program at P.S. 125. When Columbia Urban Educators at Teachers College teachers at IS 195 discovered first-hand the great need for books for 6th to 8th grade readers and better access to a variety of books that might interest them, the drive was expanded to include the school.
The drive has been organized through the collaborative efforts of Human Resources Department, the Office of Community Affairs, the Urban Educators at Teachers College Program, the Office of the Executive Vice President and the Teachers College Office of Public Affairs.