School libraries link up with Delaware Library Catalog to provide broader access to books

(Abdul Razak Latif/Big Stock Photo)

(Abdul Razak Latif/Big Stock Photo)

Library collections at Delaware schools just got a lot bigger as students can now link to the statewide library system to access books and other materials.

Since its launch in 2006, the Delaware Library Catalog connects more than 70 libraries throughout the state. The catalog went statewide in 2010, now providing a shared collection of 2.5 million books and electronic media to those libraries.

This week, Delaware leaders celebrated the addition of the state’s school libraries to that system, providing much broader access to books for students throughout the state.

“This is a no brainer to me,” said House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst. “We need to encourage children to read, and we need to help our teachers. We need to help students take responsibility for their research and let them learn and give them those tools so that today we will be expanding it.”

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Earlier this year, state lawmakers approved $1 million in funding to connect schools to the statewide catalog. The money will help train school librarians on how to modernize their collections, and to transfer materials between libraries.

“The heartbeat of the school should be in the library. That’s where, when kids walk in in the morning, they want to go,” said state secretary of education Mark Holodick. “What’s most important is that that location and the people who are in that space create an environment that is really welcoming for our kids, a place where our young people want to gather and access information, accurate information, and have access to literature and books.”

State librarian Annie Norman says while public libraries have drastically improved their offerings over the last 20 years, libraries inside schools have languished. She said this program will help eliminate “book deserts” in some schools and create “book floods” instead.

“Connecting the school libraries and the library catalog achieves the last mile in ensuring equity of access,” Norman said. “It seems like everything around literacy has been tweaked except school libraries until now, but this library initiative is long overdue.”

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In addition to books, music, and other items, libraries around the state have started to offer things like music instruments, gardening tools, and other items. When schools were closed for the pandemic, some libraries even lent out Wi-Fi hotspots and Chromebook laptops for students doing virtual learning.

The state has also partnered with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to provide a book per month for every child up to age 5 who signs up through the state’s library system.

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