New App Gives Columbus Students Remote Access to Library Materials

The Public Library CONNECT initiative partners Columbus City Schools, the Columbus Metropolitan Library and Cleveland-based digital content provider OverDrive.

Tom Hanks
A screenshot of the new Sora app being used by Columbus City Schools students to access library books

Remember all those weekend trips to the library to check out books or movies? Well, now, there’s an app for that.

Through a new reading app called Sora, Columbus City Schools students can now check out a book without even getting out of bed.

The Public Library CONNECT initiative is a new partnership between Columbus City Schools and the Columbus Metropolitan Library, with technology from Cleveland-based digital content provider OverDrive. The effort aims to increase students’ access to e-books and audiobooks by combining the resources of the CML and CCS libraries.

“It’s super easy for the kids to do it. They don’t need a library card, and they don’t need to go to the branch,” says Catherine Mason, digital buying lead for the Columbus Metropolitan Library. “If a student wants to read, they can—they don’t have to get a ride or get on a COTA bus to get to their nearest branch. So, many barriers have been removed.”

Parents can rest easy knowing their 14-year-old isn’t going to see adult content, because titles are filtered for appropriateness by grade level. All students will have access to Sora through their district-provided Chromebook.

Mason says the app makes it easier for students to access library materials. “We see it as these students are already our customers, so we’re just providing an easier way for them to get to the stuff we’ve already had all along,” she says.

“Our mission at OverDrive is a world enlightened by reading, and this partnership has helped us to meet that mission,” says company spokeswoman Andi Barnett.

Check it out at soraapp.com.

A shorter version of this story appears in “Parent Pulse” in the Winter 2021 issue of Columbus Parent.