PLAY card connects students to their public library

The program is a great way to strengthen relationships between public libraries and the schools and communities they serve.

PINES Library Access for Youth (PLAY) is a student library card developed by Georgia Public Library Service.

PLAY gives youth access to their local public library and the tools they need to build literacy skills.

  • PLAY is a statewide initiative, but individual library and school systems forge local agreements for their community.
  • PLAY’s ability to provide students with additional learning resources serves an essential role in their education.
  • Teachers use PLAY to bridge the gap when their schools do not have certain materials for a standard or curriculum.

students with play library cards

PLAY gives students access to their local library and the tools they need to build literacy skills.

PLAY has grown steadily and currently provides more than half a million pre-K to 12th grade students in 51 school districts the ability to:

  • Check out books without late fees
  • Request items at any PINES library to be delivered to their local library
boy student browsing books at a library

Individual library and school systems partner to implement PLAY.

When school and public library systems agree to partner for the program, they encourage students to use PLAY in the classroom, at the library, and at home.

“We’ve taught kids how to check out books from eRead Kids on their school Chromebooks, how to access Mango Languages and LearningExpress Library, and more,” said Chelsea Kovalevskiy, assistant director of Cherokee Regional Library System. “While our schools have always appreciated what the public library offers their students, that value has been diminished by the difficulty in accessing it. PLAY enables libraries to make more easily accessible what we’ve always brought to the table, increasing its value exponentially.”

Public library staff connect with families by attending school events like open houses, school registration events, PTA meetings, and other local community events.

“We are able to visit the schools more often, provide more value to the students, and in turn the school system has a better understanding of how their students use the library,” said Kovalevskiy.

The Azalea Regional Library System began its local PLAY card program in 2020. They currently partner with seven school districts.

“The success of such a program depends on effective communication, a clear understanding of roles, and a shared commitment to enriching students’ lives through educational experiences,” said Stacy Brown, executive director of Azalea Regional Library System. “Our library system provides valuable resources and learning opportunities to students, and schools support the PLAY student card program by promoting it to students, parents, and staff.”

Interested in bringing PLAY to your community?

Contact your local library!

PLAY provides additional learning resources and serves an essential role in many students’ education.

The benefits extend beyond the classroom.

Rita Harris, director of community engagement for Live Oak Public Libraries, has witnessed firsthand how PLAY reduces barriers to library usage, such as eliminating late fees so students can check out books worry-free.

“A parent came into Forest City Library with her four children. She wanted to get library cards for them, but she had late fees on her account,” said Harris. “The library explained that her children could check out items fines free with their student PLAY accounts. The children were all so excited to be able to check out books again.”

Teachers use PLAY to bridge the gap when schools do not have certain books or materials available.

Walker County Schools partners with Cherokee Regional Library System for PLAY. “Teachers have really appreciated the increase in teaching materials, and PLAY continues to be used in more classrooms throughout the district,” said Robin Samples, director of curriculum and instruction at Walker County School.

Christine Bartlan has made PLAY a part of her children’s and students’ learning experience. “PLAY has been very beneficial to my kindergarten classroom,” she said. “The school does not have a library on campus, and we are very thankful to have a PINES library close by. Students have such joy being independent and checking out their own books,” said Bartlan.