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Public and School Libraries Join Forces in New York City Pilot Program

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The scramble to stock up on high-quality nonfiction gets most of the common core-related press, but library participation in schools' move to the common standards can go far beyond book lists. A pilot program launched last year and expanded this September augments New York City schools' curriculum development through dramatically improved access to the metropolitan area's three major library systems: the New York Public Library (NYPL), Brooklyn Public Library, and Queens Library.

The New York City Department of Education is joining forces with libraries through a partnership called MyLibraryNYC, in which students at 400 city public schools are automatically assigned library cards and provided with expanded access to books, reserves, and research resources at any branch of any of the library systems. MyLibraryNYC also includes provisions for school-public interlibrary loan and expedited borrowing processes for teachers furnishing their classes with library books. Students and teachers will search across library systems using a shared online catalog supported by the BiblioCommons platform.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the expansion in a press conference Sept. 28. Read the Department of Education press release and guide to MyLibraryNYC for more information. The New York Public Library has also posted an overview for educators.

Two of the participating library systems are staffing up in anticipation of the program's expansion. NYPL is currently hiring a MyLibraryNYC selection program supervisor, while the Brooklyn Public Library has an opening for a strategic planning intern to help evaluate year one of the pilot. Among other duties, the selection program supervisor will design teacher sets, menus of common core-aligned titles that teachers can borrow as bundles of books. (See, for example, the sample teacher set for 4th grade English/language arts.) The job requires communicating with teachers and curriculum directors, as well as managing NYPL collection development. The logistical challenges are bound to be immense. As the pilot moves into its second semester, it will be interesting to see how the program pans out.

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