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The Harlingen High School South Information Literacy Center received an Upstart Innovative Programming Award at the 2017 Texas Library Association Convention on April 21.

The school’s ILC was recognized for implementing an innovative idea that allowed more than 1,000 students to receive eCards to the Harlingen Public Library.

Library Media Specialists Irene Leos and Vilia Garcia led the project that eased the process of issuing library cards to South students. Harlingen Public Library staff came to the school and assigned cards, all in one day, giving students instant access to online resources for research, study, and other educational purposes.

“We were trying to help our students expand their resources because you know it really is a digital world,” said Leos. “You don’t want them to go off to college not knowing about these databases that are available to help them succeed. The public library has a lot of really good resources. They have eBooks they can download to any electronic device, learning and studying resources to prepare for tests or careers, and they also have a language-learning program. The best part is that all of that is free. The eCards gave our kids options without ever having to leave the library.”

The announcement of their win came through email a day before their annual Texas Library Association Conference where the two Library Media Specialists were presented with a $1,000 check during a general assembly.

Leos and Garcia hope to use the grant funds towards replenishing their maker-space area with materials for hands-on activities and technical activities such as coding and robotics for next year.

I have heard people say, that books are obsolete, but they’re not,” South Library Media Specialist Vilia Garcia said. “We have our super readers, and they love to read the physical books. But we want to make the library more accessible to everyone. We have the café and the computers, so the students are used to the interaction of the digital literacy. A library is a place not just to learn, but also create. I think that is really wonderful to see the library become something more.”

The Upstart Innovative Programming Award recognizes two libraries each year for creative projects.

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