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ConnectED Library Card Challenge seeks new recruits

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the Urban Libraries Council (ULC) are seeking 60 new communities to participate in the second round of the ConnectED Library Card Challenge. The program will expand on the successes from the first round of the program by “documenting successful partnership models and practices,¬†continuing to provide a space for participating communities to work together, and involving national organizations to expand the impact of the challenge.”IMLS logo

As part of the initiative, library executives, school superintendents, and elected officials are asked to worked together to align programs and resources in such a way that every student in their respective schools will be able to receive a library card and have access to the learning resources of America’s public libraries.

IMLS and ULC are also releasing Stepping Up to the ConnectED Library Challenge: A Call to Action, a report that highlights efforts by the first round of challenge communities and outlines strategies for successful partnerships.

“We are delighted to be continuing this groundbreaking work with the Urban Libraries Council,” said IMLS Director Dr. Kathryn K. Matthew. “All children should have access to the resources they need for success in school and life. The ConnectED Library Challenge is already making a real difference for students in communities across the country by connecting them to the valuable resources of their public libraries.”

“The work of the first 60 communities is just the tip of the iceberg in ensuring equal access to vital learning resources, closing achievement gaps, and providing a more integrated approach to education,” said ULC President and CEO Susan Benton. “We look forward to working with IMLS to broaden the impact by engaging more communities in building powerful partnerships to improve education outcomes.”

Below are several success stories shared by previous participants:

* Kansas City Public Library in Missouri shifted from signing students up for conventional cards to making school IDs into library cards. The initial change automatically enrolled about 10,000 K-12 students who previously did not have library cards. Now, all public school students in the Kansas City area have full access to public library resources, day or night, using their student IDs.

* When the mayor of Washington, D.C. prioritized connecting school IDs with library access, more than 70,000 middle- and high-school students received immediate access to the District of Columbia Public Library using their DC One Card student IDs. The effort also aimed to remove all barriers to participation, including fear of fines. Students under the age of 20 do not incur any fines or fees when using their DC One Cards for library access.

* In Ohio, Columbus Metropolitan Library and Columbus City Schools distributes “Kids Cards,” a library card that does not require a parent’s signature, during school visits to the local public library to encourage immediate use.

* In Arizona, Pima County Public Library and the Tucson Unified School District’s partnership includes training for more than 200 school staff, ranging from the superintendent and principals to learning support coordinators. The training familiarizes school personnel with a wide range of library learning resources that support student achievement.

The ConnectED Library Challenge, a part of the ConnectED initiative, was developed with IMLS direction and support. President Obama announced the initiative in 2015, along with the IMLS-supported Open eBooks initiative.

For more information about the ConnectED Library Challenge, see the IMLS website. To learn more about how to join round two of the Library Challenge, email Colleen Bragiel at the Urban Libraries Council.

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Emily Sheketoff

Emily Sheketoff is the former Associate Executive Director of the American Library Association's Washington Office.

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