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Racine Public Library plan would make student IDs into library cards

RACINE Every student in the Racine Unified School District would be able to access the Racine Public Library with his or her own student identification card at their own school library under a newly proposed partnership.

Although the pilot program would start with just one school, officials’ goal is to eventually give every student an ID that doubles as a library card.

This would allow each student to regularly check out books from the Racine Public Library, 75 Seventh St., have books sent from the public library to their school library, and access thousands of ebooks, magazines and online courses through the state’s online library.

«We want to provide every student in the school district with a library card,» said James O’Hagan, Unified’s director of digital and virtual learning and a member of the Library Board. «This would allow students to use their ID numbers to access materials; this would expand the Racine Public Library from one branch to one in every RUSD library.»

Pilot at Gilmore

O’Hagan presented the proposal to the Racine Unified School Board during a meeting at the district’s administrative campus Monday evening, along with Jessica MacPhail, Best Fake IDs director of the Racine Public Library, and Brian O’Connell, a member of the Library Board and library media specialist at Mitchell Middle School.

O’Hagan explained that the partnership would start with just Gilmore Middle School, 2330 Northwestern Ave., where the district recently approved giving each student a personal Chromebook computer to use at school. O’Hagan noted that Gilmore is well suited as a pilot site because of the new technology and the ability it affords students to access online materials the library offers, including online textbooks.

However, both he and MacPhail noted several logistical issues with the plan, primarily making sure the district’s student data and ID numbers can mesh with the library’s software.

In a follow up interview, MacPhail noted that the main difficulty is transferring data between the two systems without leaking student information and individual library records, both of which are protected by federal and state law respectively. The pilot at Gilmore would primarily test if the entities can transfer that information. Fake ID

«The first thing for me: Is it technologically possible? It should be, but if we don’t test it out, we won’t know for sure,» MacPhail said.

Beyond that hurdle, O’Hagan noted that the district would also have to develop a single, universal system for student IDs, which he said could also enhance security in schools.

«In order for this program to really work we want our students to be able to take their student ID and be able to go down to the Racine Public Library and check out material with that we need to have some kind of standard card and standard bar code,» he said.

Other challenges include setting up a way for parents to approve their child accessing library materials, and finding a way to not overburden children with late fees. MacPhail noted the library doesn’t fine students ages 5 to 10 and that would be expanded to include all Unified students if the program is approved.

The program is still in the planning stage, but O’Hagan and MacPhail said they would ideally plan to begin the pilot program at Gilmore in the next couple months. Scannable Fake ID In the meantime, MacPhail said the two groups will draft a «letter of understanding,» outlining both entities’ roles in the partnership, and submit it to their respective governing boards for approval.

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