Public Library Access Expands to 400 Schools

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A program that allows students to order library books directly from their schools is set to expand this year beyond Manhattan. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Friday that about 250,000 students will be able to access the more than 17 million books in the collections at the New York, Queens and Brooklyn public libraries under the MyLibraryNYC program which began last school year.

Officials made the announcement at 50th Street School Campus in Manhattan where librarian Adelena Kavanagh applauded the move, saying it will especially help her students who live in the outer boroughs.

“A lot of my students live in the Bronx, some live in Brooklyn, some even live in Queens,” she said. “This will actually give them access to more libraries.”

Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott gave the participating students an assignment: to research and write an essay on the history of the New York City’s libraries.

“We want to make sure that you’re college and career ready, you’re able to debate each other, you’re able to analyze information, you’ll be able to write information, you’ll be able to really think in a very creative, complex way to compete in today’s society,” he said.

The program gives each students a new library card while teachers may order up to 100 books for lesson plans. Teachers may also use online tools to collaborate with peers and post recommended book lists.

The MyLibraryNYC pilot launched last year in a partnership between 86 schools in Manhattan and the New York Public Library system. The expansion includes 400 schools and the Brooklyn and Queens library systems providing services in all five boroughs. Citi provided $5 million dollars in funding.

Surveys conducted after the pilot showed that nearly 90 percent of participating teachers said the program better equipped them to teach, and that students in the pilot were three times more likely to check out a book from their public library than those in non-participating schools.