Kentuckians to get free access to state’s virtual library

Published 2:26 pm Thursday, June 4, 2020

The Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE) and the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives (KDLA) announced a partnership Thursday that will provide all state residents with free access to the Kentucky Virtual Library during the upcoming school year.

“My administration is education first and this pandemic is demonstrating how we need to further our efforts to provide educational opportunities to all Kentuckians,” said Gov. Andy Beshear. “I applaud this collaborative effort between CPE and KDLA to provide this opportunity.”

Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman, who also serves as secretary of the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, added: “All Kentuckians, regardless of their zip code, have the right to world class education. Equal access to the Kentucky Virtual Library is a big step in that direction.”

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The virtual library – administered by CPE – is a consortium of nearly 300 libraries and institutions across the state, including colleges and universities, public libraries, K-12 schools and hospitals, among others.

In years past, the program has relied on financial support from KDLA, as well as cost-sharing member fees from participating libraries. However, KDLA has agreed to pay membership fees for all of Kentucky’s local public libraries over the coming year.

“The virtual library is an exceptional resource, especially for students and parents engaged in distance learning,” said CPE President Aaron Thompson. “This partnership will help ensure equal access to these materials for people and communities all across the state, and I commend the KDLA for their support during these challenging times.”

State Librarian and KDLA Commissioner Terry Manuel announced the plan Thursday at the Kentucky Virtual Library’s annual Joint Session.

“Public libraries are vital in meeting the information needs of Kentuckians,” Manuel said. “With recent school and library closures, libraries’ ability to offer online resources to their communities has been more important than ever before. With the budget challenges many public libraries will face in the upcoming year, KDLA wants to ensure uninterrupted access to these resources throughout the Commonwealth.”

The virtual library offers over 60 research databases and resources for users of all levels. This year, KDLA support allowed it to offer Ancestry Library Edition throughout Kentucky, and KDLA will continue to support access to Ancestry in the year ahead.

“Most Kentucky public libraries find significant value in the Kentucky Virtual Library and have participated since its launch more than 20 years ago,” said the program’s executive director, Ilona Burdette. “When the recent closures hit, leadership made the decision to extend resources to all Kentucky school districts and public libraries. With the virtual library’s extraordinary support for the year ahead, access will remain available to all Kentuckians through their public libraries.

“We are so thankful for the partnership and support of KDLA,” Burdette said. “This is truly an example of the cooperation that makes Kentucky strong.”