Student Library Cards
by Tracy Briseño
When my middle schooler came home yesterday, she was excited to have met her school librarian and check out some books she’d never read before. Also, she wanted to share with me some big news. “Did you know that we all have library cards?!” Cue my shocked face. Actually, I did know this as I was part of the team at Ames Public Library (APL) who worked with a school district team to organize this. In June, APL partnered with Ames Community School District (ACSD) to issue over 5,000 public library cards to students.
My daughter has always had library access. With a mom who works at the library, she has her own personal librarian and practically has books on demand. However, having her own student account gives her some different options. She’s able to use the library independently and practice managing her own checkouts. She’s able to use library resources at school for research, or for fun, without needing my library account information. This is particularly exciting since our goal is to expand access and complement the resources already provided by teachers’ classroom libraries and media centers.
We are excited that these new accounts will allow for ease of access for all students. Even if a student’s family hasn’t had time to stop in and set up their library account yet, the student still has the same access without any hurdles or barriers. All ACSD students get an electronic Student Library Card when they enroll in school unless parents opt out.
At APL, we saw a bunch of kids over the summer (hurrah!) and regularly we were able to help them connect to the resources they needed or check out materials seamlessly because they already had accounts set up.
Online, students can take advantage of ALL of the library’s online resources including homework help from a tutor, finding primary resources using trusted databases, access the “New York Times” and other newspapers, finding a book to read, and downloading an audiobook. Here are a few highlights:
The library recently added a resource I’m sure will be popular with students called Comics Plus. ComicsPlus offers unlimited, simultaneous access to thousands of digital comics, graphic novels, and manga from 100+ publishers without wait lists or monthly limits. From Disney to Minecraft to Superheroes to realistic stories, there are fun choices for everyone.
Students can access Brainfuse homework help with their student accounts. Brainfuse offers on-demand, personalized homework help for all levels in core subjects including SAT preparation. Students communicate with live, online tutors using an interactive, virtual whiteboard to chat, write, draw, copy/paste text or images, and graph homework problems. Brainfuse HelpNow also offers skills building and test preparation as well as a Writing Lab where users can submit papers for detailed feedback. The Send Question Center is available for non-writing assignments such as math or science.
E-books and audiobooks for kids and teens are available through Overdrive/Libby and Hoopla. Kanopy Kids offers PBS and other educational content for students to watch and enjoy.
Students can explore a new language using Mango Languages and Little Pim. Little Pim is a fun, easy way for kids ages 0-6 to learn a new language. Little Pim, the adorable cartoon panda, helps them explore and discover a new language.
Bookflix offers Scholastic fiction and nonfiction online stories where early readers can develop and practice essential reading skills, and be introduced to a world of knowledge and exploration.
One of my favorite new things that students can access is our Personalized Picks recommendations. Students can enter information about their reading likes and dislikes and library staff will put together a custom book list based on their responses and email it to the student.
The library has so much to offer students, both for their studies and their down time. More information about the Student Library Accounts is available on the ACSD webpage and the Ames Public Library webpage.