This year, more than 20,000 students in the Elkhart area will have free access to resources enhancing their classroom learning and individual creativity.
Elkhart Public Library offers “ecards” to all K-12 students in Elkhart and Concord schools. The individual barcode allows access to the digital library with resources ranging from online tutors, research tools, perspectives on history, vocational manuals, and – of course – books, music and more.
The program is entering its fourth year.
“E-cards have been extremely valuable in providing our students with resources to help them with their in-class and homework assignments,” says Tara White, literacy director for Elkhart Community Schools. “The cards offer students the ability to easily access sources to use in research, like databases, newspapers, and magazines, and if they are struggling with an assignment or need assistance, free tutoring and assistance services are available on Brainfuse.
“It provides our students with a multitude of options for learning and engagement.”
Mary Beth Schlabach, assistant director at the library, says the ecard program developed quickly in 2015 as a way to get Elkhart middle school students greater access to online resources. Concord schools welcomed the idea, and by the 2016-17 school year, high schools were brought into the mix.
Now, elementary students also have access to explore encyclopedias and the resources in INSPIRE, a wide-ranging information database. Parents of the youngest students will find benefit in Miss Humblebee’s Academy, a complete early literacy tool.
“I personally see ecards as valuable because these are reliable tools teachers, parents and students can count on,” says Schlabach. “As teachers take time to get to know our online resources, they will find new ways to utilize the content and it will assist them in what they’re already doing in the classrooms.”
Access to the online resources, both those provided for students and the general public, generally cost Elkhart Public Library just more than $200,000 each year. The investment is worthwhile, Schlabach says, as usage increases.
“Everyone can find some information online, but these resources weed out commercial content. The sources are authorities on the subject matter, and are more in line with what is needed as students prep for college or technical training,” Schlabach says. “If teachers or parents have questions, they should reach out to us and ask about any struggles. We can collaborate and find a solution.”
For information about online resources, contact the library’s reference department at 574-522-5669.