Digital Exclusive: Public libraries to play role in online education

Digital Exclusive

HAZLETON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Many students are ready to get back to school, but a lot of them will be doing virtual learning either for the first part of the school year or the entirety of it. That’s where libraries come in, more crucial than ever.

“People sometimes question their relevance in the day of the internet, but really find that we’re more relevant than ever for providing factual material and relevant sources to people,” Hazleton Area Public Library executive director Michele Kushmeder said.

The Hazleton Area School District will phase in-person learning from the youngest to oldest students in the coming months. With a heavy dependence on online learning, public resources like your local library become vital.

“We understand that there are going to be a lot of questions and a lot of uncertainty as well as a lot of new ways to do things. The library is going to try and adapt to that as well,” Kushmeder said.

Once a place for public knowledge and research, the Hazleton Public Library system now find themselves on a mission to assist local students.

“It’s not one child falling behind that didn’t read over the summer. They’re all kind of in that boat together,” Kushmeder said.

Having recently opened their doors, the call to visit has never been more urgent.

“Come in, get your card and have access to the materials, the books and the databases to help your children and your younger students (and older students) adapt to this online learning or modified format that we’ll have,” Kushmeder said.

While the public library and the school system aren’t directly linked, teamwork will make a world of difference for the 15,000 students they both serve.

“We’ll be working closely with the school district. We’ll reach out to them and try to support the curriculum the best we can. We face some restrictions too with spacing for computers because we have to adhere to the social distancing guidelines. It may be difficult but we’ll do what we can,” Kushmeder said.

The library has been doing its part with online Zoom and STEM programs, curbside pickup and other efforts to keep children engaged.

“We like to help as much as we can. We know it’s going to be confusing. I know we’re talking about a lot of online things but we do have plenty of print materials that can help supplement as well. The more you can practice and guidance you can get as you go along? It will help,” the library’s Head of Youth Services Mary Jordan said.

Helping the cause today, continues a commitment to the community.

“We really find that we are in a position to provide lifelong learning from our youngest community members to our oldest that still want to learn things,” Kushmeder said.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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