5 Ways to Boost Usage of Your Digital Collection

February 21, 2018


Contributed by Shannon McClintock Miller


A digital collection is an essential part of today’s school library. Not only does it support our future ready students by ensuring equitable digital access to information and resources, it also empowers student voice, inquiry, and creativity through a variety of platforms and tools.  


As a Future Ready Librarian, I worked very hard to develop my school’s digital collection over the years. It grew into a beautiful, diverse, and engaging collection of eBooks, databases like PebbleGo, digital tools and apps, and other online resources. And I was always looking for ways to promote it among the school community.


When I first introduced the digital collection to our community, I thought to myself, This is going to be awesome! The students will love all of the digital resources, the teachers will use them every day in their classrooms, and families will be thrilled to have access at home and on the go to such wonderful content for their children.  


Well, that wasn’t the case. Not even close actually. Even though I told everyone about our amazing digital resources, there was hardly anyone using them anywhere. In fact, a lot of people would say, Oh, I always forget we have those… or That’s right! Tell me again how we get there?


So, I took a few steps back and started over by doing a lot of things to boost the digital collection’s usage!  



I kicked it off by hosting a big day of celebrating our new digital collection. We decorated the library, put up posters, and prepared activities to help patrons get to know this part of our collection. We invited teachers, administrators, and students and their families.


Guess what?  It worked!  We saw our digital collection usage increase at school and at home. Teachers were using it more through collaboration and instruction. Families were sharing sweet stories of learning together at home. And every day I would have students run up to me to share the neat things they were finding, researching, learning, questioning, and creating from our digital collection.  


I knew what was happening at this point. According to the American Library Association’s Digital Literacy Task Force, “Digital literacy is the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills.” We were empowering our students with the digital literacy skills they needed and giving them a place to develop these skills.


One part of our digital collection that really stood out for me in bringing these digital literacy skills and practices into play were the Cantata Learning stories and songs. I wanted to make sure we focused on them to meet of the needs of our youngest learners, along with their teachers and families.  


Let me share 5 ways we did this so you can give your digital collection a boost with Cantata Learning stories and songs too!  


1. Cantata Learning stories and songs can be accessed quickly and easily via the QR codes included with each book.  

The QR codes to the stories and songs can be accessed anywhere you have a device. You can stream the music online and download it to your device. This makes the books perfect for reading, listening, learning, and singing on the go.


Always be sure to point out the QR codes that takes readers to the music. The codes can be found on the back cover and within the front pages of each book.


You can add the QR code to a poster, a bookmark, a postcard, or a table topper for your students to scan.  Kids love taking things like a postcard or business card home… it makes them feel very grown up.  


2. There are several Symbaloo webmixes full of the Cantata Learning stories and songs.  



You can have your students go to each song and story as I described above, or you can direct them to the Symbaloo webmixes I have created for each season of Cantata Learning. These can be shared with students as a link on your homepage, through a QR code, in Google Classroom, and more. And at the bottom of each webmix, there are tiles to all of the other seasons, too.


This is a terrific way to access all of the Cantata Learning stories and songs in one place. And, it’s easy for little ones to navigate for themselves, which helps to build their digital literacy confidence!


3. Add the Cantata Learning YouTube videos to your blog, website, Google Classroom, or to an online newsletter tool like Smore.  



You will find all of the books uploaded into series- and season-based playlists on the Cantata Learning YouTube channel.  All of the videos can be embedded or added as a link, so this is a great way to bring your audience to the stories and songs online through videos.  


Your students can even follow along with the print book as they listen to the YouTube video.  They will be singing, reading, and dancing along in no time!


4. Point students to the Cantata Learning eBooks through Capstone Interactive Booklists.



One of my favorite spots to display Cantata Learning books online is in Capstone Interactive. Within CI, you can create a Booklist which can include any Cantata Learning eBook that you want. For example, say you and the art teacher are collaborating on an science and art unit focusing on color. You could create a student focused Booklist such as “Check Out the Cantata Learning Stories and Songs about COLORS Here!” featuring the all-new Sing Your Colors series.



You could even pull in PebbleGo from Capstone and have students research the articles about Colors in PebbleGo Science. By pairing these two resources up for this unit, you would be able to cover lots of information in a meaningful, musical, and creative way. The art teacher will love this collaboration too, and will remember these digital resources for future projects and reference needs in the art room.  


5. Add your digital collection to your online catalog so it is easy for students and teachers to access.

Your digital vendor will provide MARC records to load into your online catalog, such as Destiny. By doing this and letting everyone know they are there, you will give them access to search for and find the Cantata Learning stories and songs within the library catalog. There is even a hyperlink in each title’s record that will take you directly to the song.  



The eBook or print record could even be added to a Collection by Destiny, along with links to the songs, YouTube videos, and other Cantata Learning resources, such as their free lesson plans. I created this Collection for the Spring 2018 Cantata Learning season that you can use and share with your community right now.


As you can see, Cantata Learning is a great product with the flexibility to engage even our youngest learners and to help encourage their digital literacy skills. I’ve shared just a few of the ways that we can give our digital collections for young readers a boost and bring all they have to offer into our homes and learning communities. What are some other ideas you have come up with to do this within your community and collection?