By Molly Burke
The Student Nonprofit Leadership Organization and American Sign Language Club worked together on a book drive to benefit the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning Valley.
SNLO and the ASL Club collected 242 books in the Williamson College of Business Administration and Debartolo Hall from March 20 to 31.
Deborah Liptak, development director for the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning Valley, said the books will be sold at the used bookstore in the Poland branch. The store is run by Friends of the Library, a nonprofit organization that raises funds for the Public Library.
“People will come in when our store is open and purchase our books, and then the [Friends of the Library] board allocates funding back to the library,” Liptak said. “In past years, the store would raise anywhere between 25 and 30 thousand dollars.”
Liptak said the funds will go toward building new spaces and developing reading programs for children at various library branches.
“At the Boardman branch, we’re going to have a sensory room and we wanted some sensory equipment for the children with autism … and so the [Friends of the Library] are donating money for that,” Liptak said.
Children’s books are some of the most sold books at the bookstore. Liptak said SNLO and ASL Club students have made a great impact with the drive.
“By the students collecting children’s books, and fiction books, and history books, for example — which are some of our best sellers, that just helps to keep the store going and for us to have good inventory and keep it fresh,” Liptak said.
Katelynn McBee, senior business administration major and president of SNLO, said she was happy to raise funds and collect books for children, especially those whose education was affected by the pandemic.
“I think with the pandemic, the younger school-aged students have really struggled, just missing that almost full year of education and a lot of the basics when it comes to education. Reading is one of those basics,” McBee said. “I think it’s just important when the public library is able to provide those services.”
Communications studies major Kylee Chrastina, is the ASL Club president and social media chair for SNLO. She said the ASL Club focused on collecting books about American sign language and the deaf community for the drive.
“We got involved because we wanted to incorporate more of like raising awareness because a lot of children’s books help raise awareness about different causes,” Chrastina said. “We thought if we can find a couple different books to donate that have to do with deaf culture and ASL then we would be able to help make it a little more inclusive.”
Chrastina said she hopes children can learn more about deaf people from the books.
“It could be good for deaf children to see there are people like them in these books, or it could just be good for their peers to learn about them,” Chrastina said. “There’s so many aspects of sign language and deaf culture that people don’t know.”
Alexys Diamond, junior history major and ASL Club secretary, said deaf people aren’t represented enough in media.
“Deaf people don’t really get enough representation in the media and books or anything like that, especially for children,” Diamond said. “You can come across deaf people anywhere … so knowing ASL or just having the slightest bit of knowledge on deaf culture is really important because then … you’ll have more access to people in the community.”