Program aims to give every high school student a public library card


Evelyn Esek

Brigetta Del Re holds a public library card in the BHS library.

Evelyn Esek, Multimedia Editor

Library Media Specialist Brigetta Del Re knows that reading can be an expensive hobby. In fact, she read over $300 worth of books this summer. Luckily, she didn’t pay for all of those books; she borrowed them from a public library.

Del Re is now partnering with the Baldwin Borough and Whitehall public libraries on an initiative to make sure every Baldwin student has a public library card.
“The Library Cards for All program will provide a library card to each (high school) student, which will give them free and full access to their public library,” Baldwin Borough Public Library Youth Services Coordinator Dolores Colarosa said.
Both the Baldwin and Whitehall libraries are a part of the Allegheny County Library Association. All resources in the system are available to be requested from any of the partnering 74 libraries, even if the materials are not currently available at the student’s home library location.
“The advantage is that once ready, the student cards will be distributed to students in school, so that students can immediately have access to free books and resources.” Like a regular library card, the student card can be used at any Allegheny County library, including the Baldwin Borough and Whitehall libraries.
The student public library card also ensures that the student will not have to pay any late fees or fines on items borrowed. If students already have a valid Allegheny County library card, they will still receive an updated student card.
In addition to print books, movies, and magazines, both libraries offer eResources: online versions of texts, online tutoring and other educational resources. The libraries also offer computer access, printing, and faxing services.
“We understand that it’s not always easy or even possible for everyone to come see us, so by partnering with schools, libraries can make sure that those students who may not have a card can get one,” Paula Kelly, Whitehall Public Library’s director, said.
The school will provide students’ names, ages, and addresses so the public libraries can create each student card account. The information will then be cross-checked with the library card system to update the information of students who already have public library card accounts. After all of the student cards are finished, they will be distributed in school to students.
Del Re’s goal, by the beginning of the second semester, is to have every high school student in possession of a public library card. In the second half of the year, she plans to do another wave of library cards, including new students and possibly seventh- and eighth-graders.
“Libraries are so important,” Del Re said. “These free resources, with an emphasis on free, help families in a time (when) we are in an economic slump.”
She said that while it is simple to buy a book online and have fast shipping, the benefit of ordering a book through a library system is cost-saving for patrons.
Modern libraries “are more than just a library,” Del Re said. “We’re trying to bring to the forefront an awareness that there is this superb resource in the community.”
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