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Staff Council Leads Literacy Outreach

Staff Council - Media Swap, Fall 2012

As students hit the books in October for midterms, AU staff and faculty get together to enjoy a different look at books and other media. That’s because the Staff Council has just put on its Faculty & Staff Media Swap, inviting university employees from across campus to unite over books and literacy outreach.

The event, which happens several times per year, allows faculty and staff to drop off materials like books, CDs, and movies before exchanging them for new reads, listens, and movie nights provided by their colleagues.

Vice president of Campus Life Dr. Gail Hanson first brought the idea to campus after hearing of a similar event while at a professional conference.

“I came back and said to my executive assistant, ‘I think this would be a great thing to do at AU,’” she explains. “After a couple of years of modest success, the Staff Council decided to pick it up. It was exactly the right group to do it. Since they’ve done it, they've gone beyond books to all different kinds of media. The contributions have been terrific. Participation’s been great.”

Now on campus for more than ten years, the Media Swap is an integral part of AU’s professional workplace. It’s something staff and faculty look forward to each year – perhaps this year more than ever, according to Staff Council member David Fletcher. Fletcher oversaw last week’s Swap, which enjoyed enormous success.

“Staff Council had an unprecedented number of books for this year’s event along with an outstanding level of involvement by the campus community, as more than fifty staff and faculty donated materials,” he explains. “This year we had one AU staff member drop off nine boxes of books…Still we had many other staff dropping off five, ten, or twenty books, with the total number of books available for the event in the hundreds! Never before had we received so many books.”

The Media Swap is about more than just providing new books for AU staff and faculty; like so much of what AU does, it’s also about connecting and engaging with the community, and it couldn’t have been accomplished without the dedicated team of staff members that Fletcher is quick to acknowledge.

“All books – fifteen very full boxes – that remained at the conclusion of the Book & Media Swap were shipped to Better World Books, a bookseller that uses the donated materials to fund literacy programs around the world,” Fletcher says. “The Staff Council works to support American University's Strategic Plan by acting on our values through social responsibility and service.”

However successful, the Swap is not the only way the Staff Council serves the larger community outside of AU. In the past year alone, they’ve collected a hundred prom dresses for underprivileged high schoolers, gathered cold-weather wear for the homeless, and raised funds for local outreach.

For Fletcher, the Faculty & Staff Media Swap is just the tip of the iceberg for what Staff Council does to reveal the heart that the AU community carries for service.

“The outpouring of support and participation by our staff in this and the other Staff Council events such as the Prom Dress Drive, Pet Adoption Program, Staff Giving Campaign, and Winter Wear Drive are indications that we have an exceptional service-oriented community,” he says.

Fletcher – who is also a career advisor for the School of International Service – credits fellow Staff Council members Kathryn Mirance and Adell Crowe for their work in making this fall’s Media Swap such a success both for AU and literacy efforts.

Crowe echoes Fletcher’s words on the AU community, recognizing that the Media Swap and the Staff Council’s other outreach efforts all speak to the core of what makes AU a great place not only for students but also for anyone looking for an engaged professional community.

“The generosity of this place just ripples across the area,” she says. “It’s amazing to me how generous the people are around here.”