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Supporting Our Students After the Storm

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Supporting Our Students After the Storm

Cedar Rapids Public Library, Iowa

Education - Children & Adults | 2020

Innovation Synopsis

In August, a derecho tore through Cedar Rapids, bringing hurricane force winds. This storm was the latest challenge facing schools already struggling with reopening for the fall amid rising COVID-19 cases. The library partnered with the School District to be an internet hub for students and turn their Student IDs into library cards.


The derecho damaged every school and thousands of homes in the area, left the entire community without power and internet and displaced families across the community. The library immediately looked for ways to support the community safely, including supporting students and families as the school year was set to begin. Providing stable internet access for middle and high school students was a priority, as well as increasing access to our resources for students of all ages.

Key Elements of Innovation

The CRPL partnered with the district to act as an internet hub for students who did not have stable internet access. A limited number of students access internet safely and attend school remotely in a large meeting room at the Downtown Library. Teachers are onsite to assist students in a safe and socially distant environment. The Library also partnered with the CRCSD to turn their Student IDs into library cards. This gave more than 15,000 students instant access to our digital resources and our physical collection.

Achieved Outcomes

Due to the storm, hundreds of families remain without internet access well into the start of the school year. The library has been able to partner with the district and be a safe space for dozens of kids to work each day. Additionally, more than 15,000 new library cards have entered our system and students throughout the city are now utilizing our homework help services, databases and collection of materials.

Click here to view local media coverage of the library's support.