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HFM BOCES recognizes School Library Month

April 18, 2024 | Filed in Archive, HFM Top Stories

Kristi Beedon of the HFM School Library System stands in an aisle of the Instructional Resource Center while holding a book in her hand.In recognition of National School Library Month, HFM BOCES is shining a spotlight on its School Library System and the vital role it plays as an educational resource for students and staff across the region.

The HFM School Library System (SLS) is a central part of the total education program in the BOCES region and remains an incredible resource of information. According to SLS Director Kristi Beedon, the service supports the school libraries in the HFM region and serves as a dynamic hub of resources for learning, innovation and exploration provided through the media library, or Instructional Resource Center (IRC).

“By providing access to a diverse range of resources and materials, the IRC library plays a pivotal role in nurturing well-rounded, curious, and informed individuals and it supports academic achievement, fosters a love for reading and learning, and cultivates essential 21st-century skills,” said Beedon.

The IRC library boasts a vast collection of print and digital resources supporting curriculum-based learning. There is also a wide range of digital resources including e-books, audiobooks, scholarly databases, and educational online resources.

One resource available to students is SORA, a free digital/audiobook platform which empowers students in grades K-12 to discover age-appropriate ebooks, audiobooks, and more from their school library. SORA not only fosters a love of reading but also promotes equity by ensuring that all students have access to high-quality educational materials, regardless of their location or background.

Through SORA, students in the HFM region have access to over 5,000 e-books, more than 250 magazines, and 800 plus audiobooks. In addition, HFM BOCES has combined with 36 other BOCES across the state to offer the ‘New York Reads’ collection. This collection includes over 800 e-books and audiobooks which are classified as unlimited, simultaneous use books. To top things off, students can also gain access to over 2,000 comic books.

“Students in smaller schools may not have opportunities like those in larger school districts to gain access to a diverse collection of books, so this (SORA) is a way for them to experience that,” said Beedon.

Perhaps one of the most exciting offerings of the IRC library is Makerspace kits. These kits are designed to foster creativity, problem-solving, and hands-on learning. They contain tools, materials, and instructions for various DIY projects and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) activities. Students of all ages and abilities can explore robotics, circuitry, engineering, coding projects and more, sparking a passion for innovation and invention that goes beyond the classroom.

At the heart of the School Library System mission is the belief that every student deserves equitable access to educational resources.

“Whether it’s through physical books, digital archives, maker kits or online databases, the goal is to provide a level playing field where all students can explore, learn, and succeed,” commented Beedon.

Each April, school libraries all across the nation are celebrated for the essential role they play in transforming learning. According to the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) website, efforts for a national School Library Month began in 1983 and by April 1, 1985 officials with the AASL, along with local and national dignitaries, kicked off the first ever School Library Month with a ceremony on the west steps of the U.S. Capitol to bring attention to the importance that libraries and their workers play in the lives of countless individuals across the country.

Members of the HFM Instructional Resource Center are pictured seated around a table each reading a different book

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