Cobb County Public School Students Get All-Access PASS to Library Materials and Resources

By Krystin Dean

More than 120,000 public-school students in Cobb now have access to the county’s public library digital and print resources through the new Library PASS (Public Library Access for Student Success) initiative. Library PASS is one of the largest programs of its kind in the United States, targeting expansion of the reach of public-library resources.

The Cobb Community Collaborative recently celebrated an ongoing partnership between the Cobb County Government, Cobb County Public Library System, Cobb County Schools, and Marietta City Schools by signing a Memorandum of Agreement for the initiative.

Library PASS links K – 12 student identification numbers—the same as their lunch numbers—to accounts for online connections to the Cobb Public Library from home, the classroom, or library.

Students have access to 93 online databases, 18,659 eBooks, 7,270 eAudiobooks, and 430 streaming videos, as well as 604,908 physical items in the library’s collection. They may check out books and eBooks, and explore online research publications on science, history, and technology.

“Library PASS enables librarians to do what they have always wanted to do—put books in students’ hands,” said Lisa Cleary, community engagement manager for Cobb libraries. “If they forgot or lost their card, or they are with a grandparent, neighbor, or babysitter, students can use their student ID card to check out books. And that makes students and librarians very happy.”

All students previously had access to school media center resources, yet only about one-fourth had Cobb library cards. Cleary said expanding access to the library is a major step for improving educational attainment levels in the county, especially for students with limited opportunities to visit libraries in person.

Marietta High School Library Media Specialist Laura Gary-Michel said Library PASS is a gateway to numerous research and reading resources in the library system for students.

“Students’ independent reading choices have grown exponentially,” Gary-Michel said. “We’ve more than quadrupled their book and eBook choices.”

Cobb County Schools Library Media Education Supervisor Holly Frilot said the groundwork for Library PASS involved many local meetings, discussions with library institutions in other states, and involving several departments in the partner organizations.

“We strive every day to improve and enhance our students’ digital and print literacy skills—skills that are crucial for success in school, career, and life,” Frilot said. “The Library PASS partnership directly speaks to this goal.”

The collaboration between the public library and schools has been bolstered by the relationships the partnering organizations developed for annual summer reading programs and other joint initiatives throughout the year.

“That laid the groundwork for working together for a common goal and sharing student data,” said Cleary. “As a public library system, we had to be willing to compromise and be open to new ideas. Using the student’s ID number instead of our traditional 13-digit number was a mental and technical hurdle—but worth the effort.”

Officials with the library system and schools spent several months developing Library PASS and preparing teachers and school staffs for the program launch in January.

Deputy County Manager Jackie McMorris said Library PASS represents the commitment of the Cobb community to promote young people connecting to educational resources and will provide a lifelong benefit.

“Reading is the key that unlocks the door to creativity, curiosity, and exploration,” said McMorris. “This partnership represents a dynamic demonstration of our commitment to lifelong learning.”

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