Tech-savvy English language learners try online world of Sno-Isle Libraries

Twenty-eight Mariner High School students climbed aboard the OverDrive Digital Bookmobile to discover online library access, then used their new library cards to check out materials for the first time at Sno-Isle Libraries Mariner Library.

Students try software on the OverDrive Digital Bookmobile
Three Mariner High School students try the Libby app on a tablet when the OverDrive Digital Bookmobile visited Mariner Library on Oct. 16. The students are English language learners (photo gallery).

The students visited the Digital Bookmobile and Mariner Library in two groups on Oct. 16. For most students, this was their first experience with a library outside of school.

“We were thrilled that Mariner High School classes could share in our excitement of hosting OverDrive’s Digital Bookmobile at the Mariner Library,” said Mariner Library Manager Sandra Beck.

“Their parents don’t know anything about this,” said Mariner High School teacher Keleigh Muzaffar, the students’ English and math instructor. “Only two of the students knew about (Mariner) Library.”

Some of that comes from language barriers because the Mariner community has many first-generation immigrant families. Students’ first languages include Spanish, Arabic, Ukrainian, Russian and Vietnamese.

Muzaffar and Mariner Library Associate Robert Elliott discussed how comfortable students are with smartphones.

“Some of them aren’t very comfortable using traditional computers or laptops,” Elliott said.

“A lot of them don’t have computer access at home,” Muzaffar said.

OverDrive brought its Digital Bookmobile to Sno-Isle Libraries community libraries in Snohomish, Marysville and to Mariner so customers can see how OverDrive’s software works with different hardware. The big rig is filled with giant touch screens and five Apple iPads; four tablets from Samsung, Lenovo and Android; a Kindle Voyager and Kindle Fire; a Windows PC; and an iPod Touch.

On the huge touch screen, Marissa Gillett from OverDrive showed students how to use the Libby app and how to browse Sno-Isle Libraries digital catalog. Muzaffar and Elliott made sure students had downloaded Libby on their phones and that each of their new library cards worked before they left for the library.

In the library, students browsed the shelves for books and movies to take home. Muzaffar showed students how to check out items by scanning the bar codes on their library card and whatever item they wanted to borrow, then printed receipts to show when each item needed to be returned.

Checking out items at Mariner Library
Mariner High School teacher Keleigh Muzaffar helps some of her students check out materials from Sno-Isle Libraries Mariner Library. For many students, it was their first visit to a public library.

Elliott noted that many of the library’s DVDs are dubbed or subtitled in Spanish and some other languages, making them potentially good tools for the students to use as English-language immersion.

“Also just that checking out some DVDs for fun might be a good way to get these new library users introduced to the library and comfortable using it, that we aren’t a scary place,” Elliott said. He also told Muzaffar about Hoopla, the free app for Sno-Isle Libraries card holders that allows users to watch and stream movies for more English language exposure.

Muzaffar heard about the Digital Bookmobile visit from her colleague, Mariner High School Library Media Specialist Stephanie Wilson.

Elliott appreciates Wilson’s support and behind-the-scenes contributions to the Mariner Library.

“Stephanie has taken it upon herself to let students return any Sno-Isle materials there at the school library and she swings by and drops them off here for the students as needed,” he said. “She works hard to remove barriers for all of the students there at Mariner. … She has even helped verify some student addresses so that we can help get the students library cards set up quickly.”

Mariner Library Manager Beck appreciates the two Mariner High School teachers, too.

“Stephanie and Keleigh have been Sno-Isle Libraries and Mariner Library advocates since our opening,” Beck said.