Giving Back

OU-HCOM book drive impacts curricula in Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Congo

Learn how students facilitated the donation of over 400 books, and what to do if you’d like to set up your own book drive.


Dana Maxwell, OMS II, and her colleagues at the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine at Athens (OU-HCOM) recently collected over 400 medical textbooks and materials to be donated to medical schools, academic libraries, and health clinics in Ethiopia, Tanzania, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Global Medical Libraries (GML), a nonprofit organization that facilitates the donation of medical education resources to facilities in developing countries, coordinated the book drive with OU-HCOM students. In the last 10 years, GML has distributed over $2.5 million worth of health science textbooks to 26 countries around the world.

Maxwell, who holds a student leadership position at OU-HCOM, got involved with GML when she noticed students didn’t know how to make use of old textbooks.

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After some trial and error, Maxwell shares with The DO what essential components are necessary in conducting a successful book drive.

Book drive backing

To gain the support of OU-HCOM, Maxwell worked with her fellow classmates to submit a proposal to the student affairs department to run the book drive for a month. Not only did they receive approval, but they also got funding to box and ship the books.

“OU-HCOM is really supportive and willing to help us do anything that gets us out into the community,” says Maxwell. “They were eager to make it happen.”

Requesting donations

Engaging medical students to participate in the book drive meant finding the right timing, as there is always an event going on campus, says Maxwell. Scheduling a book drive when students have the opportunity to travel to their hometowns to get any stored books is key. That, and a little competition.

Dana Maxwell, OMS II, poses with books for donation from the OU-HCOM community.

Maxwell and her classmates provided an incentive for the OU-HCOM community to donate textbooks: Friendly competition! Maxwell set up three separate donation bins for first-year students, second-year students, and faculty inside of OU-HCOM’s library.

When she would go to collect books from the bins each morning and evening, Maxwell would update a scoreboard tacked up behind the bins so people could see who was donating what.
Current standings were also sent out to the three groups via email.

“Most of us want to become doctors to help people, make a difference, and have a positive impact,” says Maxwell. “We have great resources and are happy to share them with people in need.”

At the end of the month, a breakfast was hosted for the winning team.

“The faculty won,” says Maxwell.

A global impact

In March, medical schools, academic libraries, and health clinics in Ethiopia, Tanzania, and the Democratic Republic of Congo received over 400 donated books from OU-HCOM.

“Dana Maxwell’s enormous effort resulted in a splendid endeavor,” says Valerie Walker, founder of GML. “As soon as the books were unpacked, they enriched medical school curricula. As a by-product, patient care will improve for generations to come. I look forward to working with osteopathic medical students on the next OU-HCOM GML book drive.”

Thanks to this year’s success, OU-HCOM plans to make the book drive an annual effort.

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