Teachers Work to Increase Library Card Ownership

NEWBURGH – Instructional Technology Facilitators (ITF) Mrs. Helen Zoutis and Library Media Specialist Ms. Cathy Gilligan are on a mission to provide access to free resources to scholars through Newburgh Free Library cards. Last year, the pair collaborated with Ms. Mary Lou Carolan, Assistant Director for the Newburgh Free Library to begin their program. The teachers present information about the library to classes and distribute sign up sheets, so students can get their library card with parent’s permission. Once library cards are in, the teachers return to the classes to sit with each student, individually, to help them acclimate to the library website and discuss the free applications that are available.

This year, the teachers coordinated their efforts around open houses and different touch points when families are in the buildings. This way they can educate parents about the free resources as well as their students. The Newburgh Free Library has been very willing to set up tables at school events to share their resources and discuss the library card program.

Currently, approximately 100 scholars at the high school level and approximately 400 scholars at the elementary level have applied for and received their library cards.

Additionally, Mrs. Zoutis offers an in-service class through the Newburgh Teachers Center to educate teachers about the free resources offered through Newburgh Free Library cards.

Homework for the class involves visiting the library to obtain library card applications and distribute to their class or assist a staff member with the process. Current teachers can receive a library card from the Newburgh Free Library with their NECSD ID, so they can utilize the resources in their classroom. Teachers who have a card that is part of the same system (Ramapo Catskill Library System) can change their home library to Newburgh to allow access to resources as well. A new course will begin in November.

Each building has access to a library card through their building librarian. Mrs. Zoutis has bookmarked Newburgh Free library resources to easily pull up and show students on Promethean boards throughout their buildings. She is also sharing the information with fellow ITFs to spread beyond her buildings.

Resources that are most popular for online reading and audiobooks are Hoopla and Overdrive. Students are able to read books on their Chromebooks issued through the Newburgh Enlarged City School District or can listen to books through the same applications. Students can also use the text help screen reader when reading independently. The Newburgh Free Library recently launched a free Rosetta Stone program that can be accessed virtually using the card.

The Newburgh Free Library is already starting to notice a difference in subscriptions. Mrs. Zoutis and Ms. Gilligan are hoping to see a noticeable impact with regard to engagement in reading. The teachers are already starting to notice a difference and hope to learn more about the deeper impact the program is having as their efforts continue.

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