The initiative is specifically aimed at increasing digital-resource access for students and educators.
Sarasota County Commissioners voted unanimously Wednesday morning to pursue a data-sharing agreement between the county and the Sarasota County School Board that would allow students and staff access a wide range of library resources.
The agreement is aimed at increasing public library access to Sarasota County Public School students and educators through the registration of universal library cards.
Before drafting the agreement, county staff members researched the implementation and subsequent effectiveness of similar models launched in both Hillsborough County and Duval County.
“Those initiatives demonstrated the benefits of granting students and educators convenient, 24/7 access to the resources included in the public library collection,” according to memo written by Sarabeth Kalajian, the county's director of libraries, to County Administrator Jonathan Lewis.
As a result, both parties decided the data-sharing initiative was worth pursuing.
“With this initiative, more than 45,000 students and educators will be able to use their student and educator identification information as a virtual library card,” Kalajian said.
Specifically, students and educators will now have on-demand digital access to such resources as ebooks, music lessons, homework help, language learning, career development and more.
“I’m shocked we didn’t think to do it sooner,” Commissioner Nancy Detert said, thanking the School Board for its efforts. “It just makes it so much easier for kids to do their homework at home … any time you have an interlocal agreement, it’s always a great thing.”
The Sarasota County School Board voted to approve the agreement at its regular June 4 meeting.
Students and educators will begin to receive access as a result of this initiative at the beginning of the new academic year in August. Between students and school faculty and staff, more than 48,000 people could take part in the new partnership.
Earlier this year, the county library system implemented a statewide interlibrary loan system. The program will allow residents in the county to borrow items — such as books, digital journals and other print materials — from libraries all throughout the state of Florida.
According to a release by Sarasota County, local cardholders will be able to set up an account on a system called “Tipasa.” From there, they can browse resources and request items all from their own devices.