Dalton Public Schools and the Dalton-Whitfield County Public Library in partnership with the Georgia Public Library Service introduce the PLAY card.

PINES Library Access for Youth (PLAY) is the PLAY card providing students with access to physical and digital library materials such as eRead Kids and GALILEO offerings. Dalton Public Schools students will be able to check out as many as five items at a time, and there are no late fees. They can request items from any PINES-affiliated library, and they will be delivered free to their local library branch for pickup. PINES stands for Public Information Network for Electronic Services.

PLAY was developed by the Georgia Public Library Service to give more youth access to their local public library and the tools they need to build literacy skills. While it is a statewide initiative, individual libraries and school systems forge local agreements for how to implement the PLAY card in their community.

“The PLAY card, a partnership between local school systems, our regional library system and our state library, is one in which our local literacy leaders and educators have shown keen interest in and greatly supported," said Darla Chambliss, Northwest Georgia Regional Library System director. "We are extremely pleased to have been included in the pilot program that launched 12 school systems across Georgia just prior to the end of this school year. We cannot wait to extend the program to other school systems in Whitfield, Gordon and Murray County and the city school systems in our region as soon as the program is available to other interested systems in the fall.”

Betsy Powell, assistant director/technology services librarian for the Northwest Georgia Regional Library System, has been instrumental in working with the fantastic team at Dalton Public Schools to get the PLAY card up and running. The team from Dalton Public Schools is Caroline Woodason and Nick Sun, both directors of school support. Susan Morrison, PINES Student Card Project manager, has kept us on track and smoothed out any bumps along the way, as have PINES Director Elizabeth McKinney and Chris Sharp, PINES system administrator. Dalton Public Schools Superintendent Tim Scott has supported this project from the start and we appreciate his commitment. Thank you to everyone that contributed time and talent to make this service available to our students.

Some PLAY card history: Live Oak Public Libraries partnered with the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System and PINES to pilot the PLAY card for 38,000 students in March 2020. In December 2020, they added an additional 13,000 students in partnership with the Effingham County school system.

“We love that the PLAY card can help build a love of reading for kids across Georgia,” said McKinney. “The PLAY card is one way to make it easier for kids to access library materials, for them to be able to discover and learn year-round.”

Twelve school systems across Georgia launched PLAY cards by the end of the 2020-21 school year to coincide with summer reading programs and to help prevent summer learning loss. As of June 2021, more than 122,000 Georgia students have received a PLAY card account, providing them free access to millions of PINES library resources.

Time-saving benefit

“The main benefit of the PLAY card is that students are automatically enrolled in the program as they enroll at any Dalton public school,” said Powell. “Parents do not have to take time out of their busy schedules to come by the library and sign their kids up. Their information is updated with the public library when it is updated with the school.”

How the PLAY card works

The Georgia Public Library Service will launch the PLAY card for all interested school systems in PINES counties during the next few years. PINES, which is part of the Georgia Public Library Service, serves patrons in all 159 Georgia counties. Those with a PINES card have access to a shared collection of more than 11 million materials that can be delivered to their home libraries free of charge. Many students in the nine non-PINES library systems have access to student cards organized through their local libraries.

Each PLAY library account is created using a unique school number as a student’s library access number. With a memorandum of understanding between the school and the library in place, the school shares limited directory information for each student with the library. Parents have the ability to opt their student out of the program at any time.

PLAY has rolled out or is in progress in Savannah-Chatham, Effingham, Morgan, Oconee, Glynn, Rockdale, Walton, Greene, Hancock, Barrow and Elbert counties and the cities of Social Circle and Dalton.

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