(TNS) – Fairview High’s teacher librarian Maura Rhodes was surprised to find that research database companies were charging both school libraries and public libraries for their services after moving from another state that didn’t .
In North Carolina, where she previously lived, libraries and school districts were organized by county, and a nationwide library system gave all public schools fair access to research databases.
There is no similar system in Colorado. In Boulder Valley, she said, school libraries, especially elementary and middle schools, often couldn’t afford the annual fees of $ 1,000 to $ 1,500 per database. And not all students have a public library card to access these resources, including students whose families are undocumented and are not comfortable providing the information required for a library card.
That is why she proposed a partnership with the Boulder Public Library in 2017 to give all students without a library card access to the database. Former Boulder Valley digital literacy specialist Zoe Midler and Boulder Public Library youth services director Anne Ledford took over the project and handled contractual and legal issues.
Fairview piloted the program in Spring 2019 and opened it to all students attending schools in Boulder in Fall 2019.
“I’m just so happy that it all worked out,” said Rhodes. “The real pressure was to give students access to these databases. It’s super easy for them to use their matriculation number. It’s a great additional resource for us.”
While the pandemic delayed work on adding more libraries, BVSD Technical Services librarian Rae Ciciora said the program now includes the libraries of Broomfield, Louisville and – added just this month – Lafayette.
The only schools without access to the Student ID Database are those in the mountain communities and the district’s Erie School, Meadowlark K-8. Because the program uses student IDs, access is based on the school a student is attending, not their home address.
While working to make student access available, Ciciora is thrilled that most of the district’s students now have this option.
“It’s been a long way,” she said. “It will be very helpful for doing research and just answering questions without combing through the Google results. You can get out of the algorithm, the results of Google paid ads and real results.”
The pupils can access the library program “Student 1” via an app on their school district homepage and thus get directly to the databases. From the home page, they can access databases based on their grade level based on subject level, including recent articles and curated research.
Options include the TumbleBookLibrary, a database of e-books for children; CultureGrams, a database on world cultures; and National Geographic, a database of digital magazines, research articles, and books. Many have text-to-speech options and allow students to change their reading level. On the homepage you will also find links to homework help and tutoring programs in the library.
“As librarians, we always try to improve information literacy,” said Ledford. “You can’t always use Google and trust the source you see. Our databases make your research easier and more accurate.”
She said that after adding the student ID option, the library no longer had to pay the database companies. The program is most commonly used in elementary schools, followed by middle schools and then secondary schools, she said.
She said her interest in the idea came from her background in school partnerships.
“School partnerships are just a great way to pool resources and improve access,” she said. “When we first started we didn’t have many examples of student ID programs. We were the cheerleaders. It was a lot of hard work, but it was definitely worth it.”
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