West Elementary School

Students at West Elementary School browse the online library catalog while looking for a book earlier this week.

The card catalog is so last decade. These days, students have shifted to an online catalog system to make browsing the library stacks a whole lot faster and more efficient. The best part? Kids are all but guaranteed to find the book they’re looking for, with no worries about missing it on the shelf.

Essentially, the schools now utilize an online catalog that displays all the school’s books and allows students to search by topic and narrow down searches to find a book of interest.

“From there, they just go and find the book on the shelves,” East Elementary School library media specialist Savannah Wood explained.

West Elementary School librarian Misty Waldrop noted the system has become a way for students to take some ownership in their library experience. Cullman City Schools libraries take advantage of the OPAC (Online Public Access Catalog) system to keep students immersed in technology and research skills in the library, while they’re able to search high interest titles and checkout online.

“We love the online catalog options. It gives students quick access to all of the resources in the library,” Waldrop said. “These students are all digital natives, so using the system comes very easy to them. The kids are able to browse our collection, reserve and checkout books all on their own.”

Students also have the ability to read and access books from almost any digital device. As all schools continue to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, that has proven to be a crucial tool to ensure students have access to books and reading material.

“This system has been key to making sure that our students have equitable access to literature during Covid,” Waldrop said. “If students are quarantined at home, they can still access our library and check out books to enjoy.”

Students also have access to the Alabama Virtual Library, which has a wealth of databases on all reading levels for students in the state of Alabama. Students are taught how to access AVL for quality research material.

“All of these resources do make it easier for students to find what they need. One of our goals is to provide equitable access to quality literature and learning resources,” Waldrop said. “Our students are assigned a Chromebook at school, so these digital resources assure that our students have the access they need to the materials they want and need.”

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