GREENFIELD — School officials had their pick of the literature this week at the Friends of the Hancock County Public Library’s first book giveaway.
Friends of the Library, a volunteer organization, raises funds to support library programs and other needs that fall outside the library’s annual budget. Twice per year, the group holds a book sale for the public to raise money for the library. Monday, the event took on yet another purpose.
At the conclusion of the public sale, Greenfield-Central School Corp. educators were invited to take any of the remaining books they felt could be useful to local elementary school students – free of charge.
Friends of the Library offered to donate up to 1,400 books – enough for each student from kindergarten through fifth grade to take one home.
Terry Miller, a social worker at Weston Elementary, approached a library official who came to her school last year about partnering with local schools during the book sale.
Monday, Miller said she was excited to see the idea come to fruition.
With boxes full of books sitting a few feet away, Miller sorted through DVDs and videos for any leftover educational gems.
“We’re very pleased that the library decided to collaborate with us,” she said. “It’s a benefit to our students.”
There were not enough age-appropriate books left after the public part of the sale for every student to have one, Miller said, so school officials will have to brainstorm in the coming days how to best distribute the material.
The sale offered about 5,000 books, some donated and some weeded from library shelves, said Mary Cross, president of the Friends of the Library board of directors.
Because Friends of the Library’s main goal is to raise money for the library, the public will always be given the option to purchase books first before items are donated.
But there’s no telling, from year to year, what will be left over for schools to claim.
“It’s whatever’s been donated,” Cross said. “Sometimes, we just have an overabundance. The trick is to get the younger kids hooked. If you don’t get the kids hooked on reading when they’re young, you lose ‘em.”
Books collected by educators Monday might be divided among at-risk students or those who have struggled with reading throughout the year.
Teresa Riley, a library assistant at Weston Elementary, said there is a noticeable difference in skill level between children who have access to books outside school hours and those who don’t, especially over the summer
“You can definitely tell the kids who have read,” she said. “You don’t really see the regression in reading.”
Library Director Dianne Osborne said library programming for children has been altered to adapt to the new balanced calendars being adopted by many schools.
The balanced calendars seek to distribute breaks more evenly throughout the school year, which results in a shortened summer break.
Still, there is a gap in classroom time between the end of one school year and the start of another, Osborne said.
If students come home with a free book from the library, Osborne hopes it will encourage their parents to explore the library’s other offerings.
“… They can come back here for the summer and get endless numbers of books,” Osborne said. “There is a message we try to get out to the parents and to the schools every year, that time is priceless when they’re not in school and they don’t have a book.”
Cross said the Friends of the Library did not keep a tally of the number of books collected by school officials but noted there were significantly fewer items left at the close of the event.
The remaining books are donated to wounded veterans and their families, she said.