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Since 2014 the Chattanooga Public Library and Hamilton County Schools have worked in partnership to provide every student with a free library card, a powerful learning tool that is renewed each year during school registration. 

Students work with their school librarians to get their free library card, regardless of their address within or outside of the Chattanooga city limits.  To make the process easy and accessible, the public library cards are issued at the school library and are good to use at any of the four neighborhood branches or online. 

“Our goal was simply to make sure every public school student had a library card and could access all of our amazing resources. We created a system-wide turn-key process in the schools that is already expanding. That is one successful outcome. The real success is getting to see how many kids are using their public library again,” said CPL executive director, Corinne Hill.

Hill, along with Hamilton County Department of Education Director of Literacy, Becky Coleman, joined more than 90 officials from 45 communities across the country in Washington D.C. in 2015 to explore strategies for creating strong partnerships that ensure that all school children have easy access to the learning resources at their public library, part of a national initiative to get a library card in the hand of every school age child. 

Now these annually reissued student cards represents approximately  11% of the library’s total circulation.