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Backpacks, Chromebooks and library cards, oh my!

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Photo submitted Delta County School District second graders Ian and Finley volunteer at the library, putting barcodes on the new student e-cards that are being distributed by Delta County Libraries. Hundreds of student e-cards are ready to go out for the

The school supplies of today look quite different from what they did 20 years ago. Technology has transformed the academic world in pre-schools and universities alike, and it comes at a very high cost.

According to the Backpack Index, a study that tracks classroom fee and supply costs, parents could expect to spend up to $1,355, on average, for a high school student's supplies in 2018.

A library card, however, is free.

In early August, Delta County Libraries ordered the supplies necessary to make thousands of student e-cards. "We based our initial numbers on the school district's announcement last spring to provide a Chromebook to every sixth-12th grader in the district," explains Lea Hart, district director of Delta County Libraries.

"It absolutely makes sense for every student with a Chromebook to also have a student e-card because it will give them access to all of our online resources that are essential for students," Hart elaborates. "Reliable and trusted research databases for all grade levels, an online encyclopedia, language learning classes, and countless resources for building literacy skills are just to name a few."

The student e-card is also available for younger students as well. "Any Delta County School District staff member can request e-cards for his students from kindergarten on up," Hart clarifies. "We subscribe to many online resources that are geared for younger students."

Delta County Libraries' staff has long promoted library cards as one of the most valuable and affordable school supplies for students. In the fall of 2017, the libraries introduced the student e-card program and began issuing cards to students in January 2018. "We issued over 100 student e-cards at that time," Hart says. "It was a great start to the program but there are thousands of students in the district. We need to do more."

Over the summer library administrative staff worked on a plan to streamline the process. "We looked at what other library districts in Colorado are doing to get library cards in the hands of students," Hart states. "With the support of the Delta County School District staff, we are ready to launch the 2018-2019 student e-card program. We have already made hundreds of cards that are ready to be handed out."

The significant change in the program this year is that it will not require the student to complete a library card application. "The student e-cards that we are creating are set up in our system under the generic name of 'student,' " says Leah Morris, collections and systems administrator for Delta County Libraries. "Therefore, we do not need to collect any personal information."

The e-cards do not allow the student to check out physical items from the library so accruing fines for overdue or lost items is not possible. "That is why we can issue the cards without attaching any of the personal information of the card holder," Morris explains. "The cards we issue this year will be good until the end of August 2019, and then we will start the process over again next year."

"Library staff have been visiting classrooms and sharing resources with the schools for many years," Hart explains. "The evolution of the student e-card program is just one example of how the libraries are constantly adapting to meet the needs of the community."

Stay tuned for more information on the student e-card and other upcoming important library news. Visit www.deltalibraries.org for more information on the library district, a calendar of events, and access to the online library.

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