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Library in a Box: A New Path to Reading
Library in a Box: A New Path to Reading
Posted on 10/28/2020
For the media center staff at North Buncombe High School, reading is a gift.Featured Photos: 1. Library Media Coordinator Katie Darty (above), 2. Media Assistant Kira Gaines, and 3. Media Center Specialist Katie Caughill pack books into gift boxes in the North Buncombe High media center on Oct. 23, 2020.

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By: Benjamin Rickert
BCS Communications Dept.

Kira Gaines packs books in the North Buncombe High media center.For the media center staff at North Buncombe High School, reading is a gift. That’s why they spent hours wrapping more than two hundred hand-selected books with tissue paper before placing them in 71 customized bakery boxes last week. It was the test-run of a new program to help students explore the world through reading while school libraries are closed for normal use during the pandemic. But it was more than that.

“Not only are we creating life-long learners,” explained Media Assistant Kira Gaines, “we’re also interested in making each student feel special.”

Each box featured books that were carefully chosen after students took a survey about their reading interests. The books were wrapped in colorful tissue paper and featured a handwritten note for each student, along with return instructions. The concept was introduced to the Blackhawks by Library Media Coordinator Katie Darty, who heard about a similar book-wrapping effort through a public library book club in Charleston. Darty then worked with Gaines and Media Center Specialist Katie Caughill to develop a plan and their box prototype. It helped answer a question librarians everywhere have asked this year.

“The question is, ‘how can we let them check out books when they can’t come into the library?’” Darty said. “When I saw it on Twitter, I thought, ‘that is a really genius idea to make a kid feel special.’”

Katie Caughill prepares personalized books at North Buncombe High.After their prototype box was received with enthusiasm by school principal Dr. Samantha Sircey, they knew the idea had potential. They conducted a survey and then prepared boxes for students in three periods of one class. When returned, all books will be cleaned and appropriately quarantined before another student receives them. Currently, the goal is to hand deliver boxes to a new class each week for as long as the library is closed, helping students discover new books and encouraging a love for reading.

“If a kid doesn’t like to read, it’s just because they haven’t found the right book yet,” said Caughill. “We’re trying to find the right book for the right hand to develop life-long readers.”

The library staff also hope that students will feel known and encouraged as they face the unique challenges of this time.

“It is a gift,” added Darty. “I just hope they really see that we’ve put all this time, and effort, and thought into them. This isn’t just three books we grabbed off the shelf. We really put care into every single book.”

Buncombe County Schools is in the process of reviewing its website to ensure compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Buncombe County Schools does not discriminate on the basis of sex in its education programs or activities and is required by Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 and federal regulations to not discriminate in such a manner. This requirement extends to admission and employment. Inquiries about the application of Title IX and its implementing federal regulations may be referred to the Title IX Coordinator and/or the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. The Title IX Coordinator's contact information is: Shanon Martin,, 828-255-5918, 175 Bingham Road, Asheville, NC 28806.

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