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Virtual library cards give Macomb County students online access

The Connect-ED partnership gives public school students in several Macomb County districts access to Ebooks and media online.
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The Connect-ED partnership gives public school students in several Macomb County districts access to Ebooks and media online.

A partnership between some Macomb County schools and public libraries is giving students access to library services online. Students with school ID numbers can automatically access Ebooks and other resources online, unless a parent objects.

Three Macomb County school districts, Clintondale, L'anse Creuse and Chippewa Valley schools, currently participate in the program, called Connect-ED, alongside four Macomb libraries.

"With the partnership with schools, what we're doing is helping to educate students about the value of consuming information," said Larry Neal, director of Clinton-Macomb public library. "Finding credible information rather than something that may be a commercially motivated search result is very important.

"(It's) really important in an information-rich society," Neal said.

Roughly 30,000 students have been given digital access through the so-called Connect-ED program. Neal says another 1,000 or so have signed up for full-fledged library cards, which students need to check out hard copies from local libraries.

Neal says engaging the students digitally is a way to get them more involved in library programs, like summer reading programs, which can help keep students from losing reading skills when they aren't in school.

"I see technology as offering an extension of what the library was already doing," Neal said. "Offering access to reading for pleasure, reading for knowledge and increasing one's learning. The role of libraries hasn't changed. Technology has just enabled us to provide better service, when people want it, at any time of day."

Connect-ED added L'anse Creuse schools as a participant this year. Neal says he hopes the program can continue to grow in a scalable way that would make it easy for libraries and schools throughout Michigan to adopt.

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