By Kevin O’Rourke
Roberto Clemente Middle School wants to give your old books new life.
Do you have a pile of books that you’ve read, and the thought of putting them in the recycling bin is revolting to you? Alexis Gerard, the library media specialist at Roberto Clemente has another option, donate them to the annual Roberto Clemente Book Swap.
For ten years, Gerard has been running the Book Swap which finds new homes for old unwanted books. The free event, open to Roberto Clemente students and students at the five elementary school which feed the middle school, Clopper Mill ES, Germantown ES, Great Seneca Creek ES, Christa McAuliffe ES, and Sally Ride ES.
“I do it to celebrate Maryland Reading Month,” said Gerard, “and to encourage lifelong literacy and reading for pleasure. What started as a small idea has grown into a large community event.”
She said she typically collects between 3,000 and 5,000 books which are then available to Book Swap attendees to browse and take home free of charge.
This year however, Gerard has run in to scheduling issues. “I have fewer days this month to collect books since winter break didn't end until Jan. 5 and we had a snow day. Combines with two non-school days coming up next week -- time is of the essence.”
“We're looking for gently used books. Books of all kinds. Books for all ages,” she said. However, this is not an excuse to get rid of that dusty set of Encyclopedia Britannica from 1965. Gerard is looking for gently used books that other people might actually want to read, but especially people of middle school age. “Folks can look at this as an opportunity to clean off their bookshelves and know that the donation of these books is going for a charitable cause,” she said.
“What's nice is that it's not a give one get one book swap,” said Gerard. “Some of the Clemente children cannot donate any books yet they are still invited to come and take home as many books as they like at no charge.” She said the Book Swap attracts about 200 people each year. “This year for the first time we are having a bake sale and a cake walk in the hopes of raising a little money for the library,” added Gerard.
Anyone looking to donate books can drop them off at Roberto Clemente Middle School at 18808 Waring Station Road in Germantown between now and January 27. The Book Swap will take place on Thursday, Jan. 29 at 7:30 pm. For more information about donating books contact the Roberto Clemente Library at 301-353-0996.
Photo courtesy Alexis Gerard.