On Tuesday, January 19, San Antonio Public Library Director Ramiro S. Salazar and San Antonio Independent School District Senior Executive Director of Curriculum & Instruction Lisa Riggs attended a national convening for the ConnectED Library Challenge in Washington, DC. Salazar and Riggs joined mayors, county executives, school superintendents, and library leaders from over 50 cities to strategize and share best practices on ways to advance President Obama’s ConnectED Library Challenge. The Library Challenge is a national initiative that challenges public libraries to work with local schools to ensure that students have access to the vast resources public libraries have to offer. Getting a library card in the hands of every student is one of the goals identified by this initiative. As a starting point, the San Antonio Public Library and the San Antonio Independent School District have agreed to partner and are currently exploring strategies to facilitate access to the San Antonio Public Library’s resources by SAISD students.
The “ConnectED Library Challenge: Answering the Call” convening was hosted by the White House with the support of the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Urban Libraries Council and the American Library Association. In addition to strengthening local partnerships which will facilitate access to library cards, participating libraries have committed to: support student learning through programming that develops language, reading, and critical thinking; provide digital resources, such as eBooks and online collections of traditional media; and to provide broadband connectivity and wireless access within library facilities.
“The San Antonio Public Library continues to be a premier resource for educational support, self-directed learning and literacy,” says Library Director Ramiro S. Salazar. “Libraries provide invaluable tools for building the community’s prosperity. By providing equal access to books, computers, and electronic resources, libraries play an essential role in addressing academic achievement gaps for children living in poverty.”
The initiative calls upon library directors to work with their mayors, school leaders, and school librarians, to provide wider access to the learning resources and books of America’s libraries.
“It is important that we face the challenges of education head-on, and that we explore ways to improve education outcomes for all students in the San Antonio community,” said Mayor Ivy R. Taylor. “I applaud the work of the San Antonio Public Library and the San Antonio Independent School District in their efforts to be proactive in engaging our youth in important out-of –school learning opportunities and for providing meaningful and accessible pathways to successful futures.”
To meet the challenge, the San Antonio Public Library has agreed to partner with San Antonio Independent School District (SAISD) to support student achievement. Strategies are being developed to support such initiatives as; on-campus Library outreach and library card sign up; afterschool programing by Library staff; Library-led book clubs; and access to digital resources like live homework help through Tutor.com. The San Antonio Public Library has also recently updated administrative procedures to remove potential barriers to library resource access including: increasing the length of material check out; increasing the blocked card fines from $10 to $15; and removing blocks so that students can now access all digital content with a card whether they owe fines or not (OverDrive, Tutor.com, and databases.)
“We look forward to partnering with the San Antonio Public Library on the ConnectED initiative, which aligns with SAISD’s literacy initiative in the early grades of pre-kindergarten through third grades,” SAISD Superintendent Pedro Martinez said. “It’s this type of collaboration that is necessary to move the needle, something we are working diligently to do here in SAISD, and this partnership will go a long way in supporting not only our students but all SAISD families.”
There was overwhelming consensus from the many leaders participating in the national convening that the future of students’ success relies on developing strong partnerships between public libraries and schools. It was recognized that access to content and library collections is crucial for inclusive and accessible learning, and 21st century skills
For more information about the ConnectED Library Challenge and the San Antonio Public Library’s role, contact Candelaria Mendoza, Library Services Administrator, at Candelaria.Mendoza@sanantonio.gov or call 210- 207-2625.
Community & Public Relations Manager