The hook of free books

The hook of free books

Kai Hemingway, Writer

The issue of students and teachers lacking access to good, personal books has now been solved by the free bookshelf, located just outside the library. The shelf is placed directly outside the entrance to the library and consists of two separate cases for the free books. 

Peter Jones has been the librarian at BFA for 16 years and states that the bookshelf was already there. Jones recounts how the books on the shelf come to be, coming from both the library itself and other generous, or confused, people. 

“The books on the shelf come from either books that we’re weeding out from the collection or people bring their own books in. And people will borrow books [from the library] and then bring them back and put them on the free bookshelf instead,” Jones said. 

While some make the mistake of placing the library’s own books in the wrong area, others are kind enough to bring their own from home. Extra caution must be followed when a personal book is brought in, just in case something inside is not up to school code.

“If the books brought in aren’t appropriate, then they’ll just get thrown away. But you never know, someone might want it. So children’s books, someone might want it for their grandchild, neighbor’s kid, something,” Jones explained. 

Jones has also observed the usage and popularity of the bookshelf with the number of students using it going in “spurts.”

A free bookshelf opens up the world of reading to students that it may not have reached before. Reading also has its own benefits to offer. Andrew Moorhead from Campbell County Public Library offers up those the benefits of reading books. 

Moorhead discusses the many advantages of books. Such advantages are mental stimulation, stress relief, more sleep, better memory, increased empathy, improved concentration, entertainment and vocabulary expansion. 

“Your brain requires exercise to keep it strong and healthy, just like all muscles in your body. Reading has been found to enhance connectivity in the brain. A decline in memory and brain function is a side effect of aging, but regular reading may help slow the process. Keeping your brain active and engaged can slow the progress of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia,” Moorhead explains. 

The bookshelf offers students a way to exploit these advantages and improve their education, and their independent reading time.

One such student is Emily Bachand (‘20). Bachand believes the bookshelf to be a great idea for not only students, but also teachers alike.

“[The bookshelf] is great because for people who might not be able to afford books for recreation that aren’t for school, it’s good for them so that they can have books too and not have to worry about returning them for the summer so they can have some summer reading too. It’s also a good way for the library to still have lots of space so that they can buy new books and it’s a good way to find old classics that have been forgotten about,” Bachand said. 

Bachand discovered the free shelf by walking past the sign on her way into the library. Though the sign is in plain view, Bachand believes that the shelf could be advertised a bit better.

“Yeah there is a sign, but if you’re not looking directly at the sign you’ll think that it’s just another part of the library or some promotion you don’t really know what it is unless you actually look at the sign, you might think it’s just the library spilling out of its coven,” Bachand said. 

Bachand brings up a valid problem of the shelf, lack of advertising. There is a sign for the shelf, but it is only located by the Library. Free books have been placed in the main entrance before and were taken home by new owners in record time.

There are still ways the bookshelf could be advertising better in order to attract students to it. 

“They could put it in the daily announcements, but a lot of students probably put the daily announcements on spam. They could have it in the main entrance or notices in the cafeteria as well,” Bachand said. 

Though students aren’t the only ones taking advantage of the free bookshelf. Teachers alike have taken books of their own. One such teacher is Larissa Hebert.

Hebert is an English teacher and has been at BFA for around 12 years. Hebert offers her own look at the shelf.

“It is a nice place for students and teachers alike to grab free books to read. I have found some books from this shelf to put in my classroom library,” Hebert said. 

The bookshelf is a great way for teachers to grab books for their own classes, as Hebert did. Many teachers across the nation have to buy their own school supplies, where books can rack up a hefty price. Mill City Press reports that on average a traditional paperback novel can cost from between $13.95 to  $17.95. 

Emma García from the Economy Policy Institute sheds lights on the matter. 

“Teachers, too, are gearing up to go back to their classrooms by opening their wallets to buy classroom supplies. An overwhelming majority of them—more than nine out of 10—will not be reimbursed for what they spend on supplies over the school year, according to survey data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES),” Garía said. 

The bookshelf helps combat this problem for teachers by giving an additional opportunity for them to grab the books they need for their student’s educational success. 

All in all, the free bookshelf is an amazing addition to the school. It provides many benefits for everyone in the school. So head on up to the library and take your pick from a large selection of amazing, free books!