School’s out for summer — no more pencils, perhaps, but there’s soon to be a surfeit of books. An intergovernmental agreement between Pontiac Public Library and District 429 jointly announced by both Tuesday will ensure that, by next summer, any child in that district, grades one through eight, will be automatically issued a library card so that materials can be checked out over the summer when school is not in session.
    According to the joint release, “In a continued effort to provide enhanced literacy and educational opportunities for area students, the Pontiac Public Library and Pontiac District 429 have reached an agreement that will provide all students grades one through eight a library card at the beginning of the 2018-19 school year.”
    It was also noted that, if not already in possession of one, all teachers will be provided a library card to have access to classroom reading material and curriculum resources.
    Not only would teachers and students have access to the library’s collection, but through the library’s online resource sharing system, they would also be able to access the resources of more than 200 libraries state-wide. Weekly deliveries of requested items will be offered to each school to ensure that teachers and students are provided items in a timely manner and enhance learning opportunities within each classroom, the release noted.
    Pontiac Public Library Director Kristin Holzhauer said that they hoped to have the new library cards via the intergovernmental agreement issued by Oct. 1. She said it was a “huge development” because of the District 429 schools’ efforts to expand their libraries and improve literacy.
    “From an educational standpoint, the teachers can boost the reading that they have available in the classroom as well as boost their curriculums, and students can easily find items of interest,” she stated. “By doing so, being able to better find items of interest, their desire to read increases.”
    It was also crucial, Holzhauer noted, to have students of all ages be able to have the opportunity for further learning in the summer months so that information obtained while school was in session was not lost between semesters.
    “Statistics show that students who engage in literacy-based activities over the summer when school is not in session do better academically throughout the year,” she said. “Having a program like our Summer Reading Program and, eventually, greater access with the library cards through the intergovernmental agreement, betters their capabilities and helps them retain knowledge.
    “We’re so excited to be able to offer this and have this opportunity to enhance what students have access to, even when school’s out.”
    District 429 Superintendent Brian Dukes told the Daily Leader that the agreement was crucial to the school’s mission to enhancing students’ access to a broader selection of books, both more grade-appropriate and of greater personal interest. He thought it key, as well, to have available the opportunity for students to continue learning over the summer.
    “We’re really hoping that having this library card is the first step getting them into the door over the summer at the library,” he said. “We want to see if we can get more kids engaged throughout the summer months with a good book.”