Lemke Lending Library Honors Beloved English Teacher


From left: Kenneth Lakowski, Delaney Hansen, Brian Dimraj, Sara Schumacher, Sofia Logacho, Michael Souza, and Nicholas Scipione. Staff and administration worked together with Dimraj to build the Lemke Lending Library, featured at center.

Sofia Logacho, Copy Editor

At the junction of the “T” on the third floor, next to the elevator, is a new and meaningful installment: the Eric Lemke Lending Library. Although the project was a collaboration between faculty in the English department and East administration, it was first conceived of and advocated for by senior Brian Dimraj.

Last year, Dimraj thrived in his first AP class, English Language and Composition, in great part because of the late Lemke’s assistance. “Mr. Lemke was always very caring and helpful, always reaching out to ask if I needed help,” Dimraj said. Lemke’s kindness created a positive classroom environment and inspired him to push himself in what was initially a difficult class. 

A lending library, a popular installation which invites passerby to take or leave a book, intrigued Dimraj in particular because of the community it had the potential to foster through an exchange of literature. He also found inspiration in the many books lying around the house that he had already read, wondering how they might be put to better use. “I feel as though my vision for it is for people to bring in books they might not read anymore or that they have read, and so that more people can find what interests them in terms of reading,” he said.

Sara Schumacher, English department chair, echoed this sentiment, describing the library as an easy way for students to pay it forward. What separates the Lemke Lending Library from East’s LLMC is a fundamental commitment to cycling used books around, providing additional titles to those that can be found at the regular library and allowing students as much time as they need to read the books without worry for another student waiting to get their hands on it or needing to bring it back before checking out another. Through reading books donated by their peers in a low-pressure environment, students are thus able to partake in the larger reading community that Lemke sought to foster in his English classes.

One of Lemke’s mantras, explained Schumacher, was to “get kids partnered with texts they liked to read and then pay it forward.” This entailed passing on a love of reading to his students, and encouraging them to then share it with others. The lending library, with its cyclical nature, will strive to uphold that mission.

To help make this dream a reality, Dimraj reached out to English teachers Delaney Hansen and Kenneth Lakowski at the beginning of the school year. They both expressed support for the project. Lakowski was especially excited to take the project on in his capacity as East’s National English Honor Society (NEHS) sponsor, viewing Dimraj’s proposal as representing the society’s values perfectly.

“One of the principal goals of NEHS is to advance the study of all areas of English. Mr. Lemke’s career at East was dedicated largely to this mission,” said Lakowski. “The completed sign on the Lemke Lending Library will encourage students to ‘share a love of reading.’ The Lemke Library will help East students do this for many years to come.”

From there, the network of teachers, administrators, and maintenance staff expanded considerably. Lakowski and Schumacher worked closely with Dimraj to identify needs, and sorted through donations with an NHS student in need of hours. Schumacher also created a system for managing future donations. This includes donating those that aren’t suitable, choosing the most high-interest titles to display, and transferring overspill into a backstock location. In the future, she hopes that this process can be taken on by NHS and NEHS students.

Additionally, after Dimraj brought in a display case, Schumacher and Lakowski brought on board Nicholas Scipione, Science and Industrial Tech department chair; Michael Souza, Assistant Principal for Operations; and East maintenance staff to create the physical lending library on the third floor. Kelly Roberts, school librarian, also ordered a special stamp to mark donations as property of the lending library.

The only task that currently remains is setting up the commemorative plaque. “We would have liked to have the project ready by Mr. Lemke’s birthday earlier this year,” said Lakowski, “but if everything is complete by the end of the year, I think we’ve accomplished our goal.”

Interested students and staff can drop off school-appropriate books in good condition to the box in FRC3 labeled “Lemke Library Donation,” as well as taking a book from the library to read, share and enjoy at any time.