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More access: Delaware connects school libraries

The Delaware Division of Libraries is investing $1 million in school libraries across the state.

The funding will give students more access to a statewide network of books and other learning materials.

Officials gathered at William Penn High School in New Castle Tuesday to announce the funding to connect schools with the Delaware Library Catalog.

The system allows libraries to share resources and loan books or other materials regardless of where they're housed.

State Rep. Valerie Longhurst (D-Bear) says the investment will not only connect school libraries, but it will also save time for students and families.

“Our teachers are busy, our parents are busy, children are busy. This gives them ownership of their research papers or anything that they want to do," said Longhurst. "And it breeds more of an environment to read. And that’s what we really need to get to because reading is knowledge, right?”

State Librarian Annie Norman said the expansion comes at a crucial time as literacy scores in Delaware schools are not where they should be.

“Connecting the school libraries in the Delaware Library Catalog achieves the last mile in ensuring equity of access–book floods rather than book deserts for all Delaware children–and completes the system of library services across the lifespan toward the vision of a fully literate Delaware,” Norman said.

The program will expand to school districts in Kent and Sussex Counties soon–with all schools connected within three years.

The funding also gives school librarians training in modernizing and streamlining school collections

Mark Arehart is an award-winning reporter/producer. Before returning to Delaware, Arehart was a reporter for WKSU and Ideastream Public Media in Northeast Ohio. He previously hosted Morning Edition and covered the arts scene for Delaware Public Media. He has worked for KNKX in Seattle, Kansas Public Radio, and KYUK in Bethel, Alaska.