Both public libraries and school districts spend a large portion of their budgets paying for access to online databases and services. Often, both offer the same choice of resources to the students and parents whom they serve. Many times, both institutions offer programs that offer the same services (computer instruction, homework help centers) but the day of the program, the program room is half empty. With so much emphasis being placed on slashing county and state budgets, why are these services being replicated in many cases? Why aren't school districts directly collaborating with their county public library systems to ensure that students have access to appropriate online public library resources and information literacy instruction while they are in school using their media centers, classroom computers or computer labs (especially in after school programs)? How can replicated resources be eliminated while still providing student access from both the schools and the public library?
The State Library in West Virginia, in conjunction with many of the public library systems, has purchased a license for Ebsco, Grolier and many other databases. Since we have a statewide network, they were able to allow auto-logins using IP address routing from the schools. Each school also has a username and password so that students, teachers and parents can utilize the services from home. They also track school usage via those two logins. The website is wvinfodepot.org. I think that they have done an excellent job of using funding to share services with K12 and beyond. Some schools still subscribe to certain databases that aren't offered, but there is not duplication.
Yes, beyond databases there are many ways a public library system can partner and collaborate with the school system. In the county I live in there is a wonderful alliance and partnership between the not only the public library and the school system but also with the two colleges - a premier Liberal Arts college and the Community College (Carroll County in Maryland)
The adminstrations of these libraries and learning institutions have established committees with staff liaisans for both the school system - the public library and the public library - the colleges devoted to sharing/supplementing resources and joint projects. I worked on one several years ago called Teen Connect where the school system, public libraries and colleges developed a series of programs designed to introduce the youth of our county to a number of new technologies that had emerged. This project culminated with an in person/online conference event with a tech expert remotely talking to youth about and demo-ing the new educational gaming venues . (That became a template for a new virtual and real life "game" devloped by students which was incorporated into the County summer reading program. Again that Summer Reading program is another example of outreach to students sponsored by the public Library is promted in the public schools) One aspect of the Teen Connect project involved setting up a videoconferencing - 21st century penpal type correpondence/connection between a group of teens in Estonia and Carroll County using Skype. At the time I left the system, administrators were looking into additonal ways of sharing online resources (the public library and the colleges already use a cooerative OPAC system and allow their patron borrowing rights between the institutions.)
This county is a model for innovative ways these systems can interface and complement each other's resources - strengthening the learning environment of the entire county our students K - 12 and parents, college students as well as the general public they serve.