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Students Using More E-Books from Public Libraries

The Buffalo & Erie County Public Library saw a rapid, significant increase last year in local students accessing e-books, audio books and e-videos through and the Sora mobile app or digital library cards.

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(TNS) — It seems like a logical partnership, particularly during a pandemic: the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library and schools teaming up to offer students access to the library's e-books and audio books to broaden the materials available to them.

"Now our students and staff can access the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library digital collection through our student credentials," said Amy Young, library coordinator for the Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda School District.

Ken-Ton uses the Sora reading app. It allows students to borrow from the school's collection of classroom and pleasure reading, as well as from the public library system's children's and young adult digital collection. Other schools partnering with the public library with the app include Cleveland Hill and West Seneca schools, Veronica E. Connor Middle School in Grand Island, South Buffalo Charter School, Buffalo Academy Of Science Charter School and Western New York Maritime Charter School.

Students log in using their school credentials, rather than a separate library card.

"It will absolutely give schools in the Ken-Ton District very easy access to resources we have," said Buffalo & Erie County Public Library Director Mary Jean Jakubowski. "They don't have to have a library card in order to do this."

But for students at schools that do not use the Sora app, the library created a student digital library card, Jakubowski said. Instructions to obtain the card are on the library's website, she said.

The materials are age appropriate, and schools provide a list of materials as well, she said.

"We've worked with various school library media specialists to determine what materials they need to have access to," Jakubowski said. "We hope very much other schools and school districts will reach out to us to make these connections."

Young said that while Ken-Ton has had the digital app for about six years, usage increased about 25% last year. Students can access the app from their district iPads and Chromebooks, as well as mobile devices and laptops.

"Obviously, since the pandemic, we've noticed that access to our digital collection has increased dramatically," Young said.

Since March, local students downloaded more than 17,000 items from the public library with the Sora app, Jakubowski said.

The use of all e-books from the public library increased nearly 36% from 2019 to 2020, according to Jakubowski. Use of electronic audio books increased 24%, and use of e-videos went up more than 92%.

"Overall, our downloadable books surpassed the 1 million mark in 2020," Jakubowski said. "Given the pandemic, we certainly saw this rapid increase."

She said schools are dealing with many things during the pandemic.

"This is something that right now we're hoping continues to grow for the future, regardless of the pandemic. Giving access to an expanded collection is beneficial to everyone," she said.

"It's so important for our kids to be reading and this is just another avenue for them to access materials," Young said.

(c)2021 The Buffalo News (Buffalo, N.Y.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.