Allen County Schools has expanded the amount of books and online resources it can provide to its students, thanks to a new partnership with the local public library.
The One Library partnership gives students at all four Allen County public schools access to everything the public library offers. And there is no cost to the district.
“As budgets have been cut over the past few years, our library budget has been cut,” Chad Cooper, the district’s assessment and instructional supervisor, said. “So we had to take a look at some of those, especially digital resources that we had paid for in the past that we maybe didn’t have enough teachers or students using those resources that we could justify paying for them. But they were still good resources, so this is giving us those resources back.”
(From left) Ashley Spears, Allen County Intermediate Center’s librarian; Chad Cooper, Allen County Schools
assessment and instructional supervisor; Shelia Stovall, Allen County Public Library director; and Amanda
McReynolds,Allen County public library children’s librarian, discuss the new One Library partnership.
Allen County Public Library Director Shelia Stovall got the idea in December when she read a magazine article about the Metro Nashville Library issuing library cards to students. Stovall thought “what would it take to add the schools to transition to our system?”
“If we issued library cards to every student and we’re all on the same system, all on the same catalogue, it would help, one, get every student access to all of our digital resources, but it would also, I would think, instill in those students to learn how to use library resources and be lifelong library users,” she said. “That’s my end goal is to have lifelong library users, but also to make sure that all the students have access to all the great resources we have because we all know there are some parents who are never going to take the time to stop at the library to get a library card.”
After getting approval from the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives and her library’s board of trustees, Stovall reached out to the school district. Allen County Schools had switched to a new electronic catalogue system last year and would have to transition to the same system the public library used.
Not only did the public library spend $8,679 for the district to change systems and get everything set up, the board of trustees also made a five-year commitment to the partnership, which will cost the public library $3,375 annually.
“It’s $1 a student. A lot of libraries run a really tight budget, but we’ve had a little bit of excess in revenue and I can’t imagine a better use of spending those tax dollars,” Stovall said.
In addition to having access to the library’s digital resources, students can reserve hard copy books and the public library staff delivers the books to the schools.
Amanda McReynolds, the children’s librarian for the public library, said the One Library partnership has gone smoothly so far.
“I know that we’ll run into some hurdles, but right now we’re able to leap over them so hopefully that will continue to take place,” she said.
“What I’m really excited about is the primary center, even with the kindergartners. (The librarian) is allowing them to use the self-checkout stations so they’re gaining a lot of independence and that’s really cool to see.”
School librarians on board
Cooper said the two keys for other districts to implement their own One Library system is having a good relationship with the public library and “your school librarians have to be on board with it because a lot of the work along with the public library falls onto our school librarians.”
Stovall said funding is the biggest obstacle for other public libraries to partner with their local school district.
Ashley Spears, the librarian at the district’s intermediate center, said her students are already excited about it.
“I can see it being a huge benefit, especially every year with schools getting budget cuts, we get to buy less and less new books,” Spears said. “The fact we’re getting to combine resources is going to be extremely beneficial to our students.”
Students and teachers will be able to access online resources such as World Book Encyclopedia, tutor.com and test prep services. The public library also offers free online courses.
“We’re going to the non-traditional instruction days. So we’re looking to use that as maybe some (professional development) for our classified employees,” Cooper said. “Some of our secretaries on some of those days when we’re not in school but they still have to work. They can go online and take one of those classes.”