Visiting the library is one of the best ways to prevent summer learning loss, and thousands of KCS students recently took the first step toward becoming library patrons.
Last month, Superintendent Bob Thomas and Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs visited Sam E. Hill Primary School, where they handed out library cards to dozens of students.
The event was part of a broader effort from the mayor’s office, KCS and the library system, which teamed up to distribute more than 6,800 library cards to students at 17 elementary and middle schools this spring.
After getting permission forms from thousands of parents, the Knox County Public Library launched a massive data-entry effort to process all of the cards before the summer break.
Nelda Hill, KCPL’s assistant director for public services, said the project involved an “all-hands-on-deck” effort by employees across the library system: “Everybody that could be spared we put to work,” she said.
Superintendent Thomas has made literacy a top priority during his tenure, as part of a broader effort to boost student achievement. The district has also worked closely with Jacobs, whose Read City USA initiative has made library access and daily reading goals a point of emphasis.
Jacobs said ensuring that children are reading on grade level by third grade is crucial. “It’s good for them as individuals, but also as a community it’s going to help provide us with the workforce that so many companies are looking for, a highly educated, highly trained workforce,” the mayor said.
The library cards distributed this spring went to students at 17 elementary and middle schools, with an eye toward expanding the program to all elementary and middle schools in the future.
At Sam E. Hill, students gathered in the library on the last day of school to get their cards. Kindergartner Angel Yeye said she loves the Dr. Seuss book “Green Eggs and Ham” and enjoys reading books about babies “because they’re cute.”
Asked why she was excited about getting a library card, Angel said it’s “because I really want to get smart.”
The push to distribute library cards is already paying dividends, according to library officials. KCPL Director Myretta Black said that at a different elementary school, a family recently came in and asked how much a library card costs.
“We told her it was free and the woman cried,” Black said. “The mother cried, and got everybody a library card.”