MONTVILLE, NJFifth graders at Hilldale Elementary School are organizing a Montville-wide Spanish Book Collection. Their efforts will assist Susan Stine, Hilldale’s Peace Corps Project Partner, with her Community Library Project. Stine, a Peace Corp Volunteer [PCV], is working in the small town of El Coyote in the Dominican Republic. While there she is helping to establish a library.

Montville Township’s Lazar, Cedar Hill, Valley View, William Mason and Woodmont Schools are assisting Hilldale with the collection of Spanish books. Each of the six schools has a Spanish Drop Box in the Lobby. 

People with books written in Spanish, that they wish to donate, are encouraged drop them at one of the district’s participating schools. Donations are due by June 6.

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El Coyote is a rural community. Most of the 537 residents are helping with the library project. Over the past two years the community has raised $1,500 and collected 165 books. Additionally, the Governor of Samaná has committed to fund repairs to a community building that will house the library.

Stine and community members have also received a grant from USAID, a U.S. government development agency. The $5,000 from this grant will be used to purchase furniture, computers and some books. Despite these funds, the library will still lack the quantity and diversity of books that make a library an inspirational place of learning.

To date, the 165 books collected locally cover a wide range of topics, but most are too advanced for the majority of El Coyote residents. In a census of the village, 61% of adults have not graduated from the eighth grade. The reading levels of adults have further deteriorated over the years due to a lack of access to books. Of the 149 households that make up El Coyote, 47% do not have a single book in the home. Among families that have a book, 14% have only the Bible. In El Coyote, 60% of families make less than $125 a month and the nearest city with a bookstore is over an hour away.

Hilldale Elementary is asking the Montville community to help them to make El Coyote’s library dream a reality. While any books in Spanish, as well as Spanish-English dictionaries, will be welcomed, Hilldale is particularly hoping to receive donations of Spanish children’s stories, religious texts, dictionaries, encyclopedias, histories, plays, novels, and poetry.

The El Coyote community wants to build and stock their library in order to help children and families receive a better education.

In June, Stine will visit Hilldale to speak of her experiences as a PCV.

For more information on Hilldale’s Peace Corp Library Project visit the Hilldale Elementary School website at www.montville.net