“There are all sorts of electronic versions of books out there, but kids love to have a physical, hard copy of a book in their hand.”
That’s what Stewart Elementary School Principal Jerome Klimisch said the school’s new digital library catalog will do for this year’s in-school students and e-learners.
Since the system went into operation on the first day of school, Stewart’s students and teachers have borrowed more than 2,360 titles from the library, according to the school’s librarian, Kathleen Bergeson.
“At Stewart, we are all about books in their hands whenever they can be,” Bergeson said. “We keep our kiddos reading.”
The web-based catalog is accessible from every student’s desktop through ClassLink, the program the school district’s elementary students are using to organize their classes this year.
Once logged in, students can search the school’s entire collection of books by different elements, including by author and subject.
“They are able to answer so many questions for themselves — from home even — about what they want to read,” Bergeson said.
Books can be delivered to the classroom or picked up when the student has library time.
The project to digitize the district’s elementary school library catalogs has been ongoing for over a year, according to Yankton School District (YSD) Elementary Integrationist Nicole Valnes.
It was set back considerably by last year’s cyberattack on YSD’s computer network. Much of the work librarians had already done was irretrievably lost, forcing them to re-scan their collections into the system from scratch, she said.
The database system, Atriuum, by Book Systems, is already in use at the Yankton High School (YHS) and Yankton Middle School (YMS) libraries, as well as at the Yankton Community Library. Becky VerHeul, YHS librarian, and Tracy Robinson, YMS librarian, have been involved with the project from the beginning.
“It’s so awesome that the elementary schools are now automated,” VerHeul said. “I can’t tell you how much those ladies in those libraries have put into this project, working so hard to get their collections ready. They’ve worked really hard on it and it’s going to be a huge advantage for the kids.”
In addition to being more secure and streamlined, the new system has made it easier for online learners to access school district libraries this year, which is especially important during the current pandemic, she said.
Stewart School probably has the largest collection at over 12,000 titles, but the other schools’ libraries are of comparable size, she said, adding that librarians not only worked hard individually to get the work done, but also collaborated after the data breach to re-enter lost work.
YSD librarians involved in the project include: Yvonne Huennekens of Beadle Elementary School, Sylvia Fedde of Lincoln Elementary School, Terri Tschetter of Webster Elementary School as well as Webster’s previous librarian, Deborah Enfield, and Bergeson, Robinson and VerHeul.
Webster’s system launched fully this week, and though the younger children did not notice anything new, the first graders noticed right away and asked to see how it worked, Tschetter told the Press & Dakotan.
Work is progressing on Lincoln and Beadle school libraries, though Beadle experienced another setback when a pipe burst last spring, causing damage to its library’s collection.
“When they all go online, we can link our libraries together,” VerHeul said. “It will be great for the students, but more so the teachers. If a teacher is doing a frog lesson, for example, she can search and get all the books that Stewart has, and she can search Webster, too.”
Until now, the only way to know what books were in each elementary school’s collection was to email the librarian, she said.
Even though students could use the web-based catalog exclusively, Stewart School has continued giving students time in the library because younger students especially like to pick out books in person.
“This new system only enhances all of that because students can know what they want before coming in,” Bergeson said. “One particular student really enjoyed the ‘Boxcar Children,’ had looked through ClassLink and come up with a plan. He knew exactly which books he was headed toward, because he had seen it online and knew I had it.
“After so long without physical books, students are really relishing the chance to read a book again,” she said.
Due to the presence of COVID-19 in the community, returned books are quarantine for four days before being disinfected and put back on the shelves for students