Bringing Awareness—and Library Cards—to Local Students: Stepping Up to the ConnectEd Challenge

Tony Ludovici
Anthony recently joined the staff of the Library as the Career Online High School Program Instructor, assisting adult learners earn accredited diplomas.

When former President Barack Obama announced the ConnectED Library Challenge, librarians nationwide jumped at the opportunity to “put a library card in the hand of every student.”

Staff of Pima County Public Library was among them, devoting time, effort, and heart and soul into connecting kids to STEM programming, assisting them in obtaining library cards, and providing access to computers and WiFi.

For them, ConnectED was as much about giving them library cards as it was helping them understand all that is possible with a library card, including around-the-clock access to online, educational tools.

In just nine short months between August 2015 and May 2016, more than 5,000 children became first-time library card holders and discovered essential digital resources.

The success of ConnectED was made possible not only by the tireless work of Library employees, but by partner school districts and their staff, including Anthony Ludovici, a Mexican-American Student Services Specialist (MASS) for the Tucson Unified School District.

An enthusiastic advocate, Anthony says, “The services the Library provides have such an incredible impact. Many of our students lack reliable transportation, so when they get a library card and with it comes access to Brainfuse Online Tutoring and LearningExpress Library, we’ve given them a chance to continue on a path of success.”

As a MASS Specialist, Anthony’s job was to connect the students and their families to community services that foster social wellness and economic stability. “Teaching our students to use the Library and all its resources is an opportunity to close the academic achievement gap between Anglo and minority students. It most definitely contributes to our community’s overall well-being.”

Leading Family Resource Nights and Library Card Days at TUSD schools, Anthony gave presentations, answered questions, and gave step-by-step demonstrations on how to use electronic services.

“The results were amazing,” Anthony smiles.

“A comparison between the 1st and 3rd quarters at two high schools showed a positive correlation between signing up to use Brainfuse and LearningExpress Library to either maintaining scores or actually making gains in English language literacy and mathematics. Out of my caseload of 43 students, an astounding 74% showed gains in these areas.”

For Library staff, the ConnectED Challenge was about meeting our community’s children where they are today and empowering them to become critical thinkers tomorrow.

It was not just Library staff who reached for that goal. As Anthony says, “It was an opportunity for school districts, including TUSD, to help our young people be aware of the resources they have and to show that we believe in them and their futures.”

Interested in learning more about all the digital tools you can access with your library card? Visit our A-Z Resource list in the E-Library today!