In order to ensure that every K-12 student in the Suburban Library Cooperative’s (SLC) service area has access to resources critical for success in school, SLC’s member libraries are partnering with local school districts to ensure every student has a public library card by the end of 2016. Students who currently have a traditional library card are already set to go. Those who do not have cards will be given access by using the student’s school ID number. Cards issued this way will provide access to electronic resources, including books, magazines and music in electronic format, research databases, and internet access in the library.
SLC’s member library boards are working hard to ensure their policies make it as easy as possible for educators to integrate library resources into classroom instruction whenever possible. Teachers will be given access to the same resources as students regardless of residency and every student in a classroom located in a member library’s service area will have access to the same resources. Our goal is for every student to become a lifelong, educated consumer of quality information for success in school and in life.
The impetus for the collaboration between SLC’s member libraries, local school districts and elected officials was an invitation from the White House in early 2015 for the Clinton-Macomb Public Library to participate in the ConnectED Library Challenge, a pilot program of 30 libraries nationally. To participate, the library board, elected officials and school superintendents had to agree to:
• Support student learning and school success through programming and other activities that develop students’ language, reading and critical thinking abilities
• Provide digital resources such as ebooks and online collections to learners
• Provide broadband access through public computers and WiFi
• Give access by providing every student with a library card
Since the inception of the program the pilot library has issued over 10,500 new student cards. Of those, 1,000 parents took the initiative to upgrade their child’s card to full access for checkout of physical materials, use of group study rooms and more. Participation in the program is voluntary and parents are given the chance to opt their child out at any time (fewer than 5 out of 16,500 did).
Because of the success of the pilot program, collaborations are expanding and being developed between neighboring public libraries so that entire school districts can begin the program in a unified manner, recognizing that library service areas and school district boundaries vary greatly. For further information about the ConnectED Library Challenge please contact Tammy Turgeon at (586)685-5750.