Middle school student Grant Burbach reads up to 13 books a week. Because of a new program in the school district, he many never have to worry about library dues or how to transport all those books home.

Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District launched an e-book program earlier this year, giving all students access to more than 1,000 books through online databases Overdrive, Rourke Interactive Books and Rourke e-Books.

“It’s pretty amazing to be able to read anywhere I want,” Burbach said. “It’s a great opportunity for kids to read at home.”

The digital library is free for all students and is available every day of the year said Dr. Laura Sheneman, HCISD’s coordinator for library services.

“We’ve got to reach our students and give them constant access to support them in the way they enjoy learning,” said Ana Cavazos, library media specialist  at Sam Houston Elementary. “Our goal is to promote literacy by supporting this digital generation that has grown up with these devices.”

The electronic library will offer a mixture of e-books, audiobooks and interactive books with topics that range from Mathematics to Science Fiction. A number of selections will be available in multiple languages.

Available books have also been rated to ensure that students will have access to age-appropriate content, Sheneman said.

“The system is grade appropriate with restrictions,” said Dawn Burbach, parent of Grant Burbach and library media specialist at Stuart Place Elementary. “As a parent, it makes me feel more comfortable knowing that whatever they select will be suitable for their age.”

Students will be able to check out two books every two weeks with the use of a unique username and password. If the student has not returned the books after two weeks, the books will automatically be returned to the database

“It’s really easy to use,” Grant Burbach said. “ You just login and it looks like you’re in a real library. You can search for any book you might want to read.”

As students continue to use the virtual library, suggestions based on past preferences will give students an idea of books they might be interested in reading in the future, Grant Burbach said.

Throughout the year, the digital library will expand its collection by taking a small portion of the libraries budget to allow each librarian to purchase books based on the needs of their campus, Sheneman said.


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