Lancaster-Lebanon Intermediate Unit (IU13) and Lebanon County Libraries have come together to create a partnership that brings more accessibility to digital books for students within Lebanon County. 

A plethora of digital books and ebooks are now accessible to students through the app, Sora. Sora is an eBook app specifically designed for young people in the school setting. Students can borrow any reading materials from the school’s collection and access Lebanon County Libraries’ teenage and young adult digital compilation.

Students will need their school login information to log into Sora. If students do not know their login information, they can contact their school librarian. Teachers may use Sora as well for teaching tools including achievements, exportable notes, and individualized reading progress.

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“We first discussed the possibility with IU13 and Overdrive, the eBook provider who provides eBooks to both IU13 and Lebanon County Libraries, in late summer,” Kathleen Arthur, District Consultant Librarian at Lebanon County Libraries, said. “As the school year began, we worked on making the partnership happen and getting the word out. With COVID causing so much uncertainty, it seems like a good way to keep kids reading.”

In 2019, The Sora app was named one of TIME’s Best Inventions. The app can be downloaded by all Lancaster-Lebanon IU13 students for free through the Apple App Store, Google Play Store and for use in web browsers.

“Since not all students are in their brick and mortar buildings, Sora provides them with an opportunity to check out books electronically and not depend on being physically present in a building to continue their reading endeavors,” Kenneth Zimmerman, Supervisor of Educational Technology at Lancaster-Lebanon IU13, said. “

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First and foremost, it is recommended students log on and explore all of the titles available through the Instructional Media Services program at Lancaster-Lebanon IU13. In addition, students should connect to their local library to check out the Collections to view available titles. The Collections are filtered by grade levels, most popular, new ebook additions, etc.

“Sora is a great solution for students to have contactless search options of many titles to further their reading pursuits,” Zimmerman said.

Additionally, Lebanon County residents of all ages can borrow and read Lebanon County Libraries’ e-books and e-audiobooks through the Libby app. The app offers numerous diverse book subjects including mystery, romance, children’s and business. Libby can be used on both mobile devices and computers. To check out eBooks, which include print, picture, and audiobooks, a library card and PIN are needed. Residents of Lebanon County who do not have a library card can visit their local Lebanon County Library with a valid photo ID and proof of current residence to sign up. Children under the age of 18 may get their own card, but they must have a parent or legal guardian co-sign their library card registration form, as well as provide proper ID and proof of address. 

“I like that Libby is more graphics-based and user-friendly than some other eBook apps I have used,” Arthur said. “You don’t have to wade through a solid page of small print to get to the good stuff. Libby also has strong recommendation features to help you find something you will want to read. In the app, cardholders will easily find lists of recommended books by subject or theme. If the book you want is not available right now, you can easily add your name to the waiting list by placing a hold and then scroll down to find recommendations of other similar books. Now you have something you will enjoy reading in the meantime.”

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Libby also allows users to reschedule a hold. The option is given to have a book delivered again after the timeframe that was first specified. 

“Reading has always been a great way for kids to learn about the world around them, practice critical thinking skills, and learn new vocabulary,” Arthur said. “In the era of COVID, reading can also help address kids’ anxiety by answering their questions about how viruses work and how to keep themselves safe. Lebanon County Libraries has a Healthy Kids and Teens eBook collection, for example, that is designed to speak to their concerns. Perhaps just as importantly – in a time when we are missing family, friends, and the fun things we used to do – reading reminds us that there is a world beyond here and now. Books remind us that, even when we cannot be with each other in person, we are not alone.”

Both the Sora and Libby apps were created by OverDrive and OverDrive Education. For further information on each app, visit the Sora and Libby app websites.

“COVID has placed extra responsibilities on many parents and caregivers,” Arthur said. “Even though all Lebanon County Libraries offer quick curbside pickup service, parents and caregivers still may not have time to get to a physical library as often as they would like. We hope the Public Library Connect partnership allows kids to more easily access reading materials that will keep their minds curious and their spirits uplifted.”

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