Today’s guest blogger is Joann Absi, Media Coordinator at Eugene Ashley High School and Past-President of NCSLMA. She provided this post on behalf of AASL/ALSC/YALSA School/Public Library Cooperation (SPLC) Interdivisional Committee.
Whether you have an extensive budget or a very small budget, most school librarians are always looking for more resources to meet their students’ research and reading needs.
School libraries in North Carolina have access to a set of databases and a collection of eBooks provided by our Department of Instruction with funding from the State Legislature. But there always seemed to be a few students who needed information that we couldn’t provide. Earlier this fall, I was speaking with one of our local Children’s Librarians about our county students accessing the public library’s subscriptions. She said she has struggled with this problem for a long time, wanting to provide students with access to their resources especially for students who couldn’t get to the library on their own.
Some of the concerns that arose from the school’s viewpoint were safeguarding the students’ identity information, types of cards to issue, and which grades and schools to start off with access.
The public library was concerned with getting cards to children under 18, because a library card is a credit card that allows the user to incur financial liability by borrowing public property. They were also concerned with providing the database companies with individual access accounts.
After talks with our county technology department, our district media supervisor and the company that handles the public library’s databases, we came up with a plan. The public library would provide us with Student Digital Access cards. Ashley High would start a pilot program to see how the students used the resources before we would expand it to the other high schools and middle schools. We decided to start off with 10th and 11th graders, thinking that if they started using the public library’s resources this year there would be some continuation into their upper grades.
The public library ordered a set of cards that were in a specific range of numbers to be used only for digital access. This enabled our students to have individual access accounts that were approved by the public library’s IT people and also limited the amount of information about the students to a minimum. The only information that the public library has about the students are their names, their address is the school’s address information.
The cards have been assigned to the students and passed out this January for second semester use and our classroom teachers were given an explanation of the pilot program. We are looking forward to see how our students make use of the additional databases, ebooks, foreign language programs, Tutor.com and the Standardized Test Prep site among other eResources that the public library provides.
Author: Jennifer Laboon
Jennifer LaBoon is the Coordinator of Library Technology in Fort Worth ISD. She serves on the AASL Blog Committee, on the Executive Board of the Texas Library Association, volunteers with a local children’s musical theater group, and is an avid TCU fan.