Delaware County libraries go digital to support learning during the pandemic

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Thursday, April 29, 2021
Delco libraries go digital to support learning during the pandemic
Delaware County Libraries have condensed their collection into a mobile app with thousands of books for students to read with a single tap.

FOLSOM, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- "A love of reading is something that some people are born with. It's a skill that other folks have to develop," said Amy Pickett, the librarian at Ridley High School. "So, that's something that I'm here to help with."

Despite the ever-growing presence of digital media, Pickett says librarians are not going anywhere. She has been working hard to bring the Public Library Connect program to students learning both in-person and remotely. Using an app called, "Sora," developed by OverDrive, Inc., students can access age-appropriate books for free.

"The school starts a collection with eBooks or audiobooks, and then we come along and our 2,500 eBooks are able to be accessed with the app," said Cheri Crow, Youth Services Coordinator with Delaware County Libraries.

Crow says that seven school districts in Delaware County are currently participating, though she hopes that every district will connect with her to put this application to good use.

"You can click on words that you don't know and find vocabulary, you can change the font size to help your reading," Crow said. "I just think it's a great way to connect with kids, even if they're not physically in our buildings."

Students have become infatuated with the application's layout and ingenuity, which resembles the user interfaces of popular social media outlets.

"There's, like, a huge selection of books to choose from, so it's really convenient to, like, read from this app and I really like it," said Martroyia Jones, a 10th-grade student at Ridley High School.

Jones grew up with a love for reading. But other students in her grade level had different experiences.

"When I was in elementary school, I hated it," said 10th-grade student Sarah Persia. "It's changed a lot."

Persia says that the app allows her to rapidly discover new reading opportunities to add to her list.

"I'm, like, obsessed with reading," she said. "I can read a book in a day."

Persia's change of heart may have even impacted her career aspirations.

"I want to be an English teacher. They've helped me like grow so much," she said. "I just want to be like them and teach a girl like me."

Persia admires staff like librarian Amy Pickett, who has gotten creative to connect with students during this difficult time.

"I created a survey for students and staff to fill in their favorite books, their interests," she said. "I choose two or three books for them, provide a bookmark, a personalized note, and then I wrap them."

Pickett's care packages have made students feel unique and appreciated especially during the pandemic. She hopes that they will continue reading into adulthood and especially consider becoming a card-carrying member of their public library. Current members can currently access the Delaware County database of electronic books through a separate but similar app called, "Libby," also developed by OverDrive.

To learn more about the Delaware County Library System and the programs it offers, visit their website.

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