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Study ties Bibliotech use with success in school

Study ties Bibliotech use with success in school (News 4 San Antonio)

SAN ANTONIO - It was the country's first bookless library. Two years later, is Bibliotech doing what it set out to do - help kids with their education?

Librarians teamed up with UTSA researchers and found there is a relationship between using Bexar County's Bibliotech system and success in school.

"We are part of a south side home school group and we meet here at Bibliotech," Marisa Torres says.

Her small children now have technology at their fingertips as they play educational games on tablets. She says Bibliotech is opening up the digital world.

"Some of the households don't have that available to the kids," Torres says.

More than 500 people a day visit the two branches on the south and west sides. The bookless library is also available to students in 58 schools.

"They lend you a reader, so I really enjoyed that," Torres says. "We had it for the house. It has books already loaded on there for the children."

Head librarian Ashley Eklof wanted to know if Bibliotech is helping students make the grade.

"Being able to tie technology into everything really makes it exciting," she says.

The UTSA study found there is a tie between STAAR Test results and using Bibliotech. Researchers also heard directly from teenagers through a focus group.

"Bibliotech was their treat, which was really incredible," Eklof says. "They did their chores, and then their mom let them come to Bibliotech."

Some teens said it's the only place they have regular access to computers.

"What they took away from that was that they may not have been in 10th grade if they didn't have this space," Eklof says.

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff calls the study proof we're shoring up the digital divide in lower income parts of town.

"We're trying to get everyone into this digital world because if they're not into it, they're simply not going to be able to function," Judge Wolff says.

An educated society is the goal of county leaders and moms like Torres.

"I know that they're going to have a place to come," Torres says. "They're going to be able to also experience that as teenagers."

A new Bibliotech branch will open on the east side this fall. Judge Wolff says the county is also considering new branches in other cities around Bexar County.

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