The Hopkins Office of Community Services is conducting the second annual Books for Baltimore! Book Drive for new and gently used books of all reading levels.
Throughout the month of September, the books can be dropped off at locations around Hopkins campuses, and will be donated to various institutions throughout Baltimore, including senior centers and schools.
The drop-off locations this year include the 550 North Broadway Building, the Hopkins Hospital Patient Library in East Baltimore, the Friedheim Library at Peabody, the O'Connor Recreation Center at Homewood, the Davis Building on the Mount Washington Campus and the Asthma and Mason F. Lord Building at Bayview Medical Center.
Nearly a dozen local groups and institutions, varying from year to year, benefit from the book drive. The recipients are chosen by Pamela Bechtel, the program development coordinator at the Office of Community Services and creator of the Books for Baltimore! Book Drive.
During the first Books for Baltimore! Book Drive, the Moravia Park Drive Senior Center, Ashland Terrence Senior Center, Oliver Senior Center, John Booth Senior Center, Esperanza Center, Bluford Drew Jemison S.T.E.M. Academy, Paul Laurence Dunbar High School and Tench Tilghman Elementary and Middle School received donated books ranging from textbooks to children's books of all levels to current best sellers and classic tales.
Last year, the Office of Community Services, a part of Government and Community Affairs, collected over 2,300 books from the Johns Hopkins campuses and satellite sites to donate to Baltimore-area schools and senior centers. Book donations flooded into the drop-off locations at 550 North Broadway, Mount Washington Davis Building, O'Connor Recreational Center, Bond Street Wharf and the Peabody Friedheim Music Library.
Bechtel hopes to have a similar showing for this year's drive.
"While the concept of a book drive is in no way original, I brought this program to Johns Hopkins last September." Bechtel wrote in an email to The News-Letter. "Last year, I had hoped to collect at least 500 books. We were lucky enough to collect nearly 2,400. This year, I am hoping to match or exceed that total.
"This year, we were able to add two additional collection locations on the Johns Hopkins Bayview Campus; other than that, the process remains pretty much the same. We collect books, place placards in each book designating that they were donated through the Books for Baltimore! Program and send them to area groups." Bechtel wrote in an e-mail to The News-Letter.
Bechtel believes schools can never have too many books.
"Each year, there are new books or books that have not yet been explored." Bechtel wrote in an email to the News-Letter. "It is not always an issue of difficulty getting books but rather that you can never have too many."
At the 2010 Maryland Superintendent's Panel on Excellence in Adult Education, members of the Board of Education stated that Maryland as a whole has more than 20 percent of working age residents functioning with limited literacy of English proficiency skills that prevent their entry into post secondary education and training. Members of the Board of Education discovered that low literacy levels and a lack of a high school diploma are highly correlated with factor such as unemployment, living in poverty, incarceration, and children's lack of academic performance. The Books for Baltimore! Book Drive strives to break the cycle of struggling educational performance that is transferring from generation to generation by encouraging advancing literacy through recreational reading. By introducing books ranging from old favorites to new titles by dropping off books at one of the many collection centers, individuals can help Baltimore's population reach that goal.