WCLS Special News Release: ConnectEd program celebrates successful first year.
[Whatcom County, WA] The ConnectEd program began with an audacious thought – what would happen if all the students in a school district had access to all of the public library’s print and digital materials using their school IDs? Mount Baker School District Librarian Melissa Menti, and Whatcom County Library System (WCLS) Youth Services Manager Thom Barthelmess decided to find out.
“We began a pilot with the Mount Baker School District for the 2016-2017 school year and have seen huge spikes in digital and traditional library use among those students,” said Barthelmess. In all, 95% (1,811) students currently have a ConnectEd account. They checked out 3,119 items, including 2,505 eBooks and 614 print books.
ConnectEd enables school-issued student IDs to function as WCLS library accounts, giving students access to WCLS online homework resources and the ability to check out print materials brought by visiting WCLS staff. Students can also use their account when visiting WCLS libraries with a school group or on their own.
“Students took to the program like ducks to water,” said Menti. She is happy with the results: 830 students signed in to WCLS for homework help or to check out eBooks and 187 checked out print books over the course of the school year. Menti received the WCLS Golden Apple award in 2016 for her work on the ConnectEd program.
“We hope to expand ConnectEd to other districts around Whatcom County in the coming years, and are supporting the Bellingham Public Library in their efforts to set up a similar program with the Bellingham Public Schools,” said Barthelmess.
Giving students convenient library access opens the door to many possibilities. A teacher in an elementary school classroom can have all of her students log into the CultureGrams digital atlas and look up data for any country, including audio and video resources about the cultures there. Middle school students can download audiobooks onto a handheld device for instant listening. A group of high school students visiting the library can choose books to take home and read. While these things happen with a traditional WCLS library card, ConnectEd eliminates the need for kids to acquire one on their own or remember their library card number later.
Is this something you’d be interested in bringing to the districts where your children go to school? Let Thom Barthelmess know. “We’re serious about getting books and stories and information into the hands and minds of every young person in Whatcom County,” said Barthelmess. You can contact Barthelmess by calling 360-305-3605.