College Readiness Book Drive

A stack of AP and SAT books with spines showing their subjects.

By Chloe M.

Every high school in Howard County offers Advanced Placement (AP) courses in English, science, mathematics, social studies, computer science, world language, art, and research. Students who score well on an AP examination at the end of the course may be granted AP status or college credit upon entering a college or university. Unfortunately, as of 2018, a gap of 35 percent was recorded between the largest Howard County AP test-taking student group, Asian students, and the smallest AP test-taking student group, Black students. Additionally, in January 2021, the Howard County Board of Education released numbers showing that by student group, Black/African American and Hispanic/Latinx students and students receiving Free and Reduced-price Meals (FARM) continue to have lower percentages of AP exams with passing scores of a 3 or higher than their peers.

So what can we do to help? As part of the Library’s commitment to advancing racial equity in our community, we invite you to donate new or gently used AP and SAT test prep books. We look to ensure all youth feel confident in their ability to pursue college-level studies successfully – which can lead to higher-paying jobs and reduce financial stress later in life.

The HCLS College Readiness Book Drive takes place at all library branches through August 15. Collection boxes are located inside each building to collect new or gently used college readiness (SAT and AP) practice books. These books will then be redistributed in the fall along with a YOU BELONG resource page to encourage a new narrative for those who have been discouraged from pursuing college-level courses.

While AP courses are offered in the Howard County educational system without cost, the tests cost approximately 96 dollars per exam last year, and test guides were prices at $30 each (depending on the subject). Financial logistics can be a major deterrent for students from low-income backgrounds hoping to access practice materials that lead to higher-scoring exams.

The Howard County Board of Education wrote in their meeting agenda that 11,157 exams were taken by local high school students in 2020. Many of these students purchase books each year to review, and as soon as the school year ends, they throw away or abandon the lightly-used test prep books. I personally have five on my shelf, with two being brand-new and unused. Consider donating AP and SAT books that students in your life no longer need!

I believe that, with your help of timely donations, this initiative can have a long-lasting affect on our community both in reducing waste and supporting students on their journey to post-secondary education.

Chloe McGeehan is a recent River Hill High School graduate. Through the DukeEngage Gateway summer program, she is working to facilitate collaborations that generate behavioral health resources for residents of all socioeconomic backgrounds. She enjoys trail running, spending time with family and friends, painting, and making music.

Holiday Mitten Trees

Lots of hats, mittens, and gloves form the shape of a heart.

by Kristen B.

I am constantly amazed by our community. If an opportunity to give is presented, the response is often overwhelming. We take good care of each other, and it makes me proud to live and work in Howard County. Every year, generous people donate almost 1,000 pieces of cold weather gear via the Library. I know you will receive many requests for donations … it’s that time of year … but maybe in 2020 we need to do just a little bit extra.

Once again, we are asking for donations of new child-sized mittens, gloves, hats, and scarves. You can purchase them, or we accept handmade items. Even though we are still constrained to contactless pickup, our lobbies are open and boxes are in place to accept donations at any of our six branches throughout December. Donations will be given to the Community Action Council of Howard County for Head Start children and families.

If you are interested in a book that celebrates giving: One of my favorite books that I read to my kids when they were small, and that I still regularly gift to young relatives, is The Quiltmaker’s Gift by Jeff Brumbeau. This colorful, lively tale explains the joy of giving, even more than receiving. The richly detailed illustrations provide examples of different quilting patterns. There’s so much to enjoy!

A parade proceeds along the bottom of the cover, with a soldier, a bear, dancing cats, among other figures. A rainbow of a quilt spills across the top, and the title sits in a blue box, bordered in red in the center of it all.

Thank you for all you do for our community!

Kristen B. is a devoted bookworm lucky enough to work as the graphic designer for HCLS. She likes to spend winter reading, baking, and waiting for baseball to return.