Indianapolis is one of over 30 major communities across the country to accept the ConnectED Library Challenge, an initiative announced by President Obama on April 30 to expand access to digital books and library resources to children.
Superintendents from Wayne, Pike, Lawrence and Washington township schools as well as Indianapolis Public Schools are among those to join Mayor Greg Ballard and The Indianapolis Public Library to support activities that develop language, reading and critical thinking abilities; provide more digital resources such as eBooks and online connections to traditional media; enhance broadband connectivity and wireless access; and ensure that every student receives a free Library card. The ConnectED Library Challenge requires that key community leaders collaborate in new and powerful ways, weaving together their visions and combining resources.
“Indianapolis is well on its way to achieve this mission but still finds thousands of children who don’t have Library cards or reliable access to electronic resources,” stated IndyPL CEO Jackie Nytes. “This positions the Library to build greater partnerships with our schools and create opportunities to bridge the divide between schools and homes.”
The initiative mirrors much of what the Indy Library has established in its new five-year plan, which includes specific goals to offer more digital content to engage young readers and ensure that all local residents and their families have valid Library cards. Over 10,000 eBooks in the Library’s electronic collection already are targeted at young people’s reading tastes. Intensive registration activities have resulted in thousands of new young cardholders, particularly in Lawrence Township. Also, over 10,000 parochial and public school students are current Library cardholders by nature of their school’s participation in the Library’s shared catalog system.
On a national level, the ConnectED Library Challenge will involve hundreds of millions of dollars in new private sector commitments that include major publishers and their authors who have pledged to donate new titles to low-income students. Publishing houses include MacMillan, Simon & Schuster, Penguin Random House, Hachette, Candlewick, Bloomsbury, Lee & Low, Cricket Media and HarperCollins.
Other organizations, such as the American Library Association, Urban Libraries Council, The Digital Public Library of America and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, also are involved in activities to more easily improve access to digital materials and help communities leverage resources.