Montgomery County Wants to Provide All Public School Students With Library Cards
Initiative is part of national effort to increase access to books and computers
County Executive Ike Leggett with students at Harmony Hills Elementary School Wednesday
Over the next year, officials from Montgomery County Public Libraries (MCPL) hope to visit every elementary school in the county and give a new library card to every student.
County government and school system officials announced the initiative, called Library Link, Wednesday at Harmony Hills Elementary School in Aspen Hill.
MCPL Director Parker Hamilton said the goal is to put a library card in the hands of every elementary school student in the county and eventually all students in county middle and high schools.
“We want to take away any barriers to using the library,” Hamilton told Bethesda Beat.
MCPL library cards are required to check out books, download e-books and music or use the department’s online research databases and learning tools from home. New library cards are free, but usually require completing a registration form and providing proof of address and a photo identification.
Hamilton said MCPL, which is partnering with Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) for the initiative, will set up a process by which parents or guardians of students given a library card can activate the cards at any of the system’s 21 library branches.
The Library Link program won’t require any funding that’s not already in the MCPL budget, Hamilton said.
MCPL piloted the program last June at Gaithersburg Elementary School and Hamilton said the department saw evidence of the new cards being used at the MCPL branches in Gaithersburg, Damascus and elsewhere.
Last April, the White House launched the ConnectED Library Challenge to call on public library directors, local elected officials and local school systems to distribute library cards to all students. Library systems and school systems in Baltimore, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago and Washington, D.C., were among the first 32 jurisdictions to launch such programs.