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Book fair aims to benefit Saint Mary’s learning center

| Thursday, November 16, 2017

Give the gift of literacy to someone you know today, and the gift will also be shared with others.

That is the aim of the ninth annual Usborne Book Fair which will be held Thursday and Friday in the atrium of the Student Center at Saint Mary’s. This fair is held to assist The Learning Tree, a resource education center In Madeleva Hall open to both college students and the wider community. Half of the sales from the book fair will be returned to The Learning Tree in the form of free books.

Jayne Fogle, The Learning Tree’s director, said the fair has contributed many books to its library throughout its existence. As the center operates without a budget, these contributions are critical.

“We have a children’s literature library, textbooks … educational game packets … a laminator, poster board, cardstock and lots of other types of paper. We also have machines that punch out shapes and letters for bulletin boards,” Fogle said.

These tools are useful to a wide range of students, not just education majors and professors. Students use The Learning Tree’s resources for class assignments as well as personal projects, such as making birthday cards. The center offers workspace for student use.

The Learning Tree charges for its resources and services in order for the items to be replenished, Fogle said. The costs must be paid with cash or a check.

The children’s literature library has picture books, chapter books and reference books that Saint Mary’s students use for education classes and student teaching. Among the collection Fogle said the Usborne books among the collection are “high quality and informative.”

Reference and instruction librarian Catherine Pellegrino said familiarity with books is essential for children.

“Even before kids are reading, getting to know what a book is and how it works is important — turning the pages and such,” Pellegrino said. “The benefits of books for young kids are obvious, and now there are programs that recognize that benefit of having age-appropriate children’s material in a household.“

Young children can become acquainted with books by visiting the offices of doctors and social service agencies. Some such offices even send the children home with a book, allowing for a home library to be built for all those who enter the household, Pellegrino said. College students also gain much from access to books, both for their studies and for leisure.

In today’s world, however, the fact that physical books are still being used — and purchased — is surprising to many people.

“We’ve asked, and the response has been overwhelming that students prefer print over electronic format… nobody asks for the e-book format. They check out the print,” Pellegrino said. “The leisure reading books circulate like crazy. They get checked out way more than anything in the building, especially right before breaks. That’s when a lot of [books] go off the shelves.”

Saint Mary’s librarians sometimes call this collection, located at the very front of the library, the “fun books.”

The book fair takes place just as the onset of holiday shopping is becoming apparent. Books for all ages will be available, including picture books, middle grade chapter books, reference books and adult coloring books. Purchasing these books benefits more than just those who receive them, thanks to Usborne’s sharing of the sales with the Learning Tree.

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