Emerson students’ book campaign seeks to build a new library

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Thomas A. Edison K-8 school. Courtesy / Thomas A. Edison K-8 School, Twitter

By Hanna Qiu

Several Emerson students are working to fill a library for Brighton school children through a used book campaign organized by the Communication Studies department.

The campaign will run between March 25 and April 1 with the goal of 800 books. The book equity program, known as “On the Same Page,” was established by Cathryn Edelstein, the college’s senior executive-in-residence, in 2019. Each semester, Edelstein and her Nonprofit Fundraising Campaign class organize a drive for donations in money or used books, in collaboration with one Boston-area public school—this year, the 650-student Thomas A. Edison K-8 School. 

“More than 40 percent of Boston public schools don’t have a library,” said Edelstein at the program’s kickoff on Tuesday. “I want to change this.”

Edison is one of those schools;what few books it does own, said 5th grade teacher Olivia Samuel, are older and dusty. 

“I always thought, ‘Why don’t we have a library?’” she said. “Nobody was talking about it. I assume it’s funding—unfortunately, libraries are probably at the bottom of the list.”

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“On The Same Page,” though, gave Samuel some hope. Throughout the class, Emerson students in  communications take responsibility for all aspects of the campaign—from marketing and social media posts to content creation and data analytics. They learn how to get followers informed, keep engagement up and gain donations. 

Senior public relations major Emily King is on the class’s collateral team, which makes sure all social posts are “correct and presentable” before publishing. 

“For the whole class, it’s a huge collaboration between all different people with different skills,” she said. “Being together to create a cohesive campaign is interesting.”

King said that working on the campaign has only illustrated just how crucial libraries are crucial to the development of children. 

“[The fact that] 40 percent of public schools don’t have a library is a jarring statistic,” she said. “I want to do everything we can to help lower the [number].”

“This class makes me think how much [work] should be put into running a campaign,” said senior science communications major Regina Trevethan. She is responsible, along with two other students, for updating the campaign’s Facebook page four times a week. 

Samuel and her colleague also created Thomas A. Edison K-8 School social media accounts to reach families, parents, and community. 

“All the things that On the Same Page are doing, it’s not just helping my school, it’s not just helping our community, it’s helping the community as a whole,” Samual said.

On the Same Page collaborated with Tatte Bakery & Cafe, the Oak Square YMCA and Cafe Mirror to place book donation boxes all over Boston.

This semester provides the first opportunity for On the Same Page to garner gently used books. Previously, they’ve asked for monetary donations to purchase new books. 

“It’s the season of giving and spring cleaning,” Trevethan said. “It’s a great way to reduce carbon footprint, and reduce the waste people create by donating books.”

Edelstein said she has donated several books from her daughters’ shelf.  

“People who have raised children…don’t know what to do about those books and have saved them in boxes,” Edelstein said. “Here’s a chance to put them to good use for kids who need them.”