3,312 card-carrying students

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Librarians from Shawnee Heights schools gather at the high school on an in-service day to get training on all the reading and learning resources offered by the public library.

Shawnee Heights High School librarian Leslie Weishaar is making sure her students visit the school library’s second branch: The public library.

Nearly every student in the Shawnee Heights USD 450 district now holds a library card to access all the library’s resources, and especially the digital library, on school-supplied or home devices. They will have ready access to our collection of over 450,000 items, expanding their horizons for research, reference and just pure recreation, too.

This is going to boost student success, big time. Teachers will be empowered to put together easy-to-access reading lists for their classes, and kids can access those titles instantly on a tablet, computer or smartphone. Connecting Shawnee Heights schools to the public library ups the game for students, teachers and school librarians alike.

“They will learn at a very early age the value of a public library,” says Leslie Weishaar, librarian at Shawnee Heights H.S. “It is my hope that when our students graduate they will know how to use a public library no matter where they live, and they will appreciate the importance of the resources provided by a public library.”

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Shawnee Heights students Megan, Faith & Ethan use their new library cards to download and stream books.

The collaboration began with Marie Pyko, public services director and Rebecca Greer, curriculum director at USD 450. They decided together to pursue getting all Shawnee Heights students signed up for library cards and using all the resources that affords.

Pyko knew the initiative would answer President Obama’s ConnectED Library Challenge, announced in the spring of 2015.

ConnectEd is a way for communities throughout the country to create or strengthen partnerships so that every child enrolled in school can receive a library card and have access to the books and learning resources of America’s public libraries. The initiative calls upon library leaders to work with their mayors or county executives, school leaders and school librarians.

“This collaboration will not only provide our students with quality information sources and interesting recreational reading, but will develop lifelong learners and readers,” says Weishaar.

For more information about how to make the spread of library card sign-ups go viral throughout our Shawnee County schools, email Marie Pyko: mpyko@tscpl.org

Leah Sewell

Leah is the Communications Editor for the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library, which basically means she’s an observer, collector and creator of library stories. She’s a veteran publisher and magazine editor who has brought her passion for all things literary and writerly to library communications. Leah has an MFA in writing from the University of Nebraska, is a published poet and author, a graphic designer, and has a very healthy obsession with books, podcasts, art and from-scratch cooking. She lives in Topeka with her two wily kids and a similarly unruly to-read pile.