Miranda Woodard, a student at Pearl-Cohn High School, is known as a “frequent flyer” at her school library, but even she’s sometimes disappointed by the book selection.
“I’ve found so many times when I’m trying to do research or something, the school library is just so limited,” she said.
To Woodard’s delight, she’s now among those who likely will benefit from a new pilot program launched by Mayor Karl Dean on Wednesday designed to bring books and resources from the Nashville Public Library to students and faculty in three Metro high schools.
The program, dubbed Limitless Libraries, will start this school year at Pearl-Cohn, Hillsboro and Hillwood high schools, with the hope that it eventually will include all 16 Metro high schools.
“We’re starting now with a few high schools, but my goal would be for perhaps next year to expand the program to all the high schools,” Dean said. “This is such a positive thing and such a rational way to use our resources, that we need to get it done.”
Under the initiative, students at the participating high schools will have access to the public library’s collection of 1.5 million items, which includes electronic books, laptop computers, DVDs and CDs. Books and other resources will be made available to students and teachers through a delivery service, allowing materials to arrive within two days after the initial request.
“No longer will transportation be a barrier,” said Donna Nicely, director of the Nashville Public Library. “Materials can come to the student.”
When Dean first advocated the idea of merging the Nashville Public Library in late 2008, the proposal caught some members of the Metro Nashville Board of Education off guard. Over the past year, officials from the mayor’s office, library and Metro schools have sat down to organize the new program.
“When I came to Nashville, Mayor Dean asked me to a meeting to talk about a partnership with public libraries,” said Director of Schools Jesse Register, who began his tenure at MNPS last year. “I’ve got to be honest. I hadn’t thought about it. It made me scratch my head a little bit, but this is a great initiative.”
Part of the thinking behind the program, according to Dean, is to “break down the duplication of services” at the public library system and school district by ordering books together.
“The schools and public libraries will look at how to consolidate the purchasing of new materials in order to receive more favorable and better discounts, which will save the district money,” Dean said.