Photo (from left to right): Jenise Overmier, Jennifer Manning, Christina M. Bailey, Damon Austin, Amy Lauder, Angela Forest, Faith Williams, Melissa Jackson, and Julius C, Jefferson Jr.
“Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?” Martin Luther King, Jr., with that sentiment in mind, on January 19, 2014, Martin Luther King, Jr., Day of Service volunteers from the District of Columbia Library Association (DCLA) honored a commitment to serve the community at Ballou High School in Southeast Washington, DC. Volunteers assisted Library Media Specialist Melissa Jackson in organizing the collection for the school’s brand new media center. This Martin Luther King, Jr., Day of Service was part of the #MySchoolLibrarian campaign organized by DCLA and DC Public School libraries. #MySchoolLibrarian brings together librarians, information professionals, and library supporters to help D.C. school librarians organize and catalog their collection of books and other material.
DCLA President Christina M. Bailey said the service project evolved from American Library Association President Courtney Young’s advocacy challenge. “I thought it would be a good project to physically support and advocate for school libraries,” said Bailey, who works as an Information Research Specialist at the Congressional Research Service. “I’m a firm believer of advocating for libraries, and to advocate for them you need to work in them and know about them.”
Melissa Jackson, Library Media Specialist at Ballou High School, directed the volunteers in organizing and re-shelving several hundred new books and other material provided to the school. Jackson said the service project was a tremendous benefit to the students of Ballou.
“It’s great. We have enough people to organize, sort and shelve.” said Jackson.
She noted she was glad she connected with other D.C. area librarians for help “to try and work smarter, not harder” to prepare the library and its collection for use by students and teachers.
Jennifer Manning, Information Research Specialist for the Congressional Research Service, said she has often done service projects on the King Holiday through different organizations, so she was pleased to participate in the Ballou project organized through the efforts of the DCLA leadership and DCPS.
Manning stated, “I hardly ever do any shelving or anything like that, so it’s nice to get back to my roots. It’s nice to do something physical.” She hopes that DCLA will make the service project an annual event. “It’s been fun, it’s been satisfying.”
Jenise Overmier, a librarian at American University, said she came out Monday to volunteer because “In the spirit of Dr. King I think it’s important to carry out his legacy of service to the community, especially the schools.” She added that she appreciates school librarians and that they need support from others in the profession. “I think it’s a great cause,” she said. “I would love to do this next year.”
DCLA Vice President Julius C. Jefferson Jr. stated “We hope that as a tribute to the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., librarians and folks in the community will provide service in a library in the community on Martin Luther King Jr day.”
The Ballou project in honor of the MLK holiday is part of an ongoing campaign by DCLA in support of public education and literacy.
In December DCLA volunteers worked with the librarian in the Whittier Education Campus in Northwest DC as part of the #MySchoolLibrarian campaign. DCLA is currently assessing the needs of individual schools in the DC Public Schools in hopes of expanding the #MySchoolLibrarian campaign in the future.