Volunteers Find Home for Unwanted Books
April 17, 2008 – It’s difficult to watch books go to waste, especially for librarians. Generally Materials Management, a unit of HCL Technical Services, donates the College Library’s deaccessioned books, as well as donated books it cannot use, to literacy partners Better World Books and Books for Africa. However, these groups do not take reference materials, so when Lamont Library recently condensed its reference holdings, eight bays’ worth of books were left without a potential home. Rather than see them recycled, Materials Management staff volunteered their time and energy to find and deliver the materials to someone who could really use them—all 124 boxes.
Much of the credit goes to student assistant Christina Giordano, Harvard Class of 2010, who stepped up of her own accord, offering to organize and find a taker for the reference materials in her free time. Giordano contacted schools across Cambridge and Boston in search of someone who could put the books to good use and, at the same time, take all 120-plus boxes. Her efforts paid off when the librarian at the Madison Park Technical Vocational High School in Roxbury agreed to take everything for student use.
Giordano readied the materials for handoff with help from other HCL Tech Services staff who volunteered their time. Together they rummaged for moving supplies using recycled boxes and old packing paper from vendor shipments with help from Peter Ciraolo. "This was a total volunteer effort with minimal disruption to the normal course of our work," says Michelle Durocher.
One rainy Wednesday afternoon, staff dedicated their lunch break to loading a rented U-HAUL truck with the boxes of books destined for Madison. Giordano was aided by Durocher, Jaime McAllister-Grande, Janet Trumble, Danielle Adams, Scott Williamson, and Rita Akinrinade, a student at the Divinity School.
The next day, Durocher drove the loaded truck to its destination, along with Giordano and McAllister-Grande. There they were greeted by librarian James O'Brien, teachers, and a dozen students, who helped unload the materials from the back of the U-HAUL. "The staff was very appreciative and the students were excited," says McAllister-Grande.
It is fortuitous that Madison High was able to accept the entire donation, but even if it is unable to use everything, librarian O’Brien has nearly 40 years of experience in the Boston Public School system and many connections that will allow him to direct items to other schools if need be—which only furthers these librarians’ ultimate goal of finding a good home for every book.