Canastota Students Now Have Access to E-books

Canastota Students Now Have Access to E-books
Posted on 01/20/2021

Canastota students now have access to the entire Mid-York Library System digital collection using their school library account through an expansion of an e-books partnership with Madison-Oneida BOCES.

Last year, Canastota signed on to the SORA digital book service, which was rolled out across the region to secondary students from participating school districts. Over the summer, it was expanded to include elementary students. The SORA service is a web-based catalog of e-books and audiobooks that can be streamed or downloaded.

In December, Canastota was able to finalize an agreement with the Canastota Public Library to allow students access to their online catalog – which searches the entire Mid-York collection – with only their school credentials.

“Not every student has a library card, so when I heard that this was a possibility, I thought ‘We have to have this,” RSES librarian Mary Laverty said. “The kids are loving it! The public library has a digital collection that’s about five times as big as the schools, and now that is open to all kids without requiring a library card.”

Laverty said the benefits of the SORA platform are numerous, including automatic returns, personalized book collections and recommendations, audiobooks and read-along books, and bookmarking a student’s place in their book. She said the school Chromebooks that students have provide them digital access anytime they need it, so they don’t have to worry about forgetting their book somewhere.

All of those benefits now apply to Mid-York titles checked out through the student’s school account.

JSHS librarian Amanda Sgroi said she often talks with her students about using the Mid-York digital media collection. She created lessons and videos last spring, when schools first closed, to help students and teachers access online material from both the school and public library more easily.

“When the Madison-Oneida SLS created a connection for our kids to borrow from both systems without a public library card, I rejoiced!” Sgroi said. “Our kids now have so many books to choose from, both fiction and non-fiction, in all sorts of reading levels and genres.”

K-3 librarian Tracy Mammone said she has introduced all third-graders to SORA and will talk about it with younger grades more and more as the year progresses. She also introduces students to four other e-book resources the district access through an agreement with MOBOCES – Arbordale Books, Bookflix, Tumble Book Library and Worldbook. She also continues to provide print books to her young readers.

Laverty has included a permanent SORA link in her Google Classroom and has been talking about this partnership with students.

“I had kids asking, ‘When’s it going to happen?’ They are really excited about it. They’re suggesting new titles for purchase, sending me classroom comments,” she said.

Although some students prefer to read print books, particularly at younger grades, remote and hybrid learning have increased interest in and the need for online books. But even without remote learning, the dual SORA and Mid-York catalogs provide students with access to a wider range of titles than a single school could keep in print.

“Even if we were not in a COVID situation, having a robust digital library collection can fill a lot of niches for users,” she said. “This has really helped fill a gap for independent and leisure reading.”