The Madison-Oneida BOCES School Library System’s e-book service has grown exponentially this year as students and teachers in the region are utilizing more digital media due to virtual and asynchronous learning.
The School Library System (SLS) has offered a digital media collection for many years. "When COVID closed down schools in March 2020, demand for e-books, audiobooks, and other streaming and digital media skyrocketed," SLS Director Sue LeBlanc said. That trend has continued over the past year, and the growth has been far greater than other new databases SLS has rolled out in the past.
“In some cases, this is the only way to access books, and we want to do what we can to keep books in kids’ hands and continue developing independent, engaged readers,” LeBlanc said.
Through the digital media service, districts can create an arrangement with their local public library to allow students to access the entire Mid-York Library System collection using only their school library account.
Librarians in the nine MOBOCES component districts have said the digital collection helps enhance their print collection and their co-curricular selections. Mary Laverty, a MOBOCES itinerant librarian serving the Rome and Canastota school districts, said she has curated digital collections around specific, and sometimes sensitive, topics, such as LGBTQ+, allowing students to confidentially check out titles that they may not want to carry out of a physical library. E-books can also be automatically returned, bookmark a student’s place in the literature, and help provide a broader range of materials than a single school could provide on its own.
“Even if we were not in COVID, having a robust digital library collection can fill a lot of niches for users,” Laverty said. “So many students have multiple homes or forget their books and with their school Chromebooks, they have a digital connection and are never without a book. It helps fill a gap with independent and leisure reading.”