WASHINGTON – A week ago, there was almost nothing in the mid-sized room that serves as the library for Washington Metropolitan High School, save two barely-stocked bookshelves with four disconnected computer monitors.
Today, there are hundreds of books stacked up across the room, ranging in subject from algebra to the Autobiography of Malcolm X; from Langston Hughes to Howard Hughes; from language to love stories.
They are the fruits of a two-week book drive by Howard University students to give the pupils at Washington Metropolitan a well-stocked library. The school’s students and staff are in the process categorizing the 1,000-plus books over the next week to prepare for the library’s grand opening.
The book drive was part of the university’s annual Alternative Spring Break (ASB) program. While other Howard students were off in Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, New Orleans and Haiti, more than 60 reached out to help others in Washington, instead of going home or heading to the beach.
Antonita Pratcher, junior health education major at Howard University and site coordinator for Washington, led the book drive campaign, which collected books from people across the region as well as the university and Howard University Hospital.
“I was impressed with the amount of teamwork and cooperation that supporters put into the book drive,” Pratcher said. “Everyone that participated dedicated a part of themselves to help someone in need.”
Enterprise Rental Car donated a minivan for the ASB volunteers to pick up books from individuals in the area that made large donations, a contribution Pratcher said was “very helpful.”
Tanishia Williams-Minor, principal of Washington Metropolitan, said the books were a huge boost in getting the library off to the proper start. “We are very grateful, because our library was pretty destitute prior to receiving the 1,038 books,” Williams-Minor said.
“It will afford us the opportunity to offer a wider variety of books to our students.”
Until recently, students said they rarely used the dismal facility that served as the library. Instead, many traveled several minutes away from their homes to enjoy the comfort of more well-stocked facilities.
Antiona Locks, a sophomore at the school, travels by bus and Metro to another library.
“No one uses the library at school, because it is not a comfortable place study and the books are outdated,” Antiona said. “I travel about an hour away from my house to go to the Martin Luther King Jr. Library in Chinatown, because it’s comfy and I can have my own space to read.”
Vice-principal Terren Peterson said the new library will “assist the students in productive learning.”
Elizabeth Braganza, a teacher at Washington Metropolitan, will be heading the library renovation project. She and Pratcher are extending the book drive through the end of the academic year.
“I am really excited about extending the book drive and allowing people in the community to continue to support the students of Washington Metropolitan,” Braganza said. “The constant support will provide us the opportunity to keep growing and bettering our library to enhance the students’ experience.”
All additional book donations can be dropped off at the Howard University Bookstore, 2225 Georgia Ave., N.W., or Washington Metropolitan High School, 300 Bryant St., N.W. Contact Elizabeth Braganza at Elizabeth.Braganza@dc.gov or at 202- 939-3610.