Library, school district partner to provide instant electronic reading access

Digital sources to be found on a single app.

The Haddonfield Public Library and Haddonfield Public Schools announced a partnership last month to increase young students’ access to eBooks and digital audio books by combining the library’s and school’s digital reading resources in one location. 

The partnership is facilitated by OverDrive, a digital reading platform that was  originally available in the library and at Haddonfield Middle School but has since been expanded.

This alliance looks to provide safe access to thousands of age-appropriate titles for students’ perusal anywhere they wish. Through Sora, the new reading app provided by OverDrive for the school district, students can easily borrow from both the school’s collection of classroom and pleasure-reading titles as well as from the library’s juvenile and young-adult digital collection.

“I spent a lot of time working on it. I would say it started back in August,” explained Jessica Miller, media specialist for HMS and Central Elementary. “Our middle-school students had access previously to Sora, but it’s been available to all residents at the library through a library card.” 

When the work to help other pupils gain access with library cards became cumbersome — especially during the pandemic — Miller said the push began to identify a single sign-on stream that could be linked to the district’s Google accounts and then be accessed by all. 

Miller said the district was able to use its middle-school subscription and extend access all the way from kindergarten through 12th grade for all five district schools. 

“We’ve been building our collection wider since then, thanks to being linked to the HPL’s database,” she added. 

While the original goal of getting more young minds actively engaged quicker during the days of hybrid learning, HSD administration has since worked hard to return students to the classroom for five days per week. Miller said that didn’t dampen any enthusiasm, or move the goalposts very far.

“The need and desire was there before the pandemic, but the demand increased during COVID. We’ve seen the need and desire has not decreased since the district moved back to five-day, in-school instruction. Now, people can have this huge library at their fingertips, anytime,” she noted.

“The Haddonfield Public Library is so excited for Haddonfield’s students that can access eBooks through Sora,” said Eric Zino, director of Haddonfield Public Library, in a statement announcing the collaboration. 

“Having too many steps to access something is often a barrier for an otherwise great product and with Sora, the schools have eliminated that barrier for the ebooks their students want to read and use, including the titles from the public library collection for this audience.”

Miller did not have solid statistics on the number of students who have accessed Sora, nor the number of books downloaded through the app since the partnership was announced almost a month ago. But she hinted that the district anticipates a significant uptick for both.

“I feel it’s important to get more information in the hands of students immediately;  it’s the wave of the future,” Miller said.

To learn more about Sora, visit: https://company.overdrive.com/k-12-schools/discover-sora/.