Library Go Onboarding

Virtual library cards for all of your students

Onboarding guide for charter and private schools

Launched in late 2016 for all 40,000+ Saint Paul Public School students, Library Go is Saint Paul Public Library’s virtual library card program for students and educators. We are excited to expand the program to charter and private schools in 2018. Learn more about how your school can join Library Go with this onboarding guide.

Welcome from the Director

Dear Education Partners,

Welcome! Thank you for your interest in Library Go, Saint Paul Public Library’s (SPPL) virtual library card program for local students. 

Since launching Library Go with Saint Paul Public Schools (SPPS) in 2017, our librarians have reported remarkable stories of students who have benefited from library resources. By simply relaying their student ID numbers to librarians, students can access thousands of books, magazines, music downloads, academic enrichment programs, homework help, and more. As one librarian said, “I feel like a magician—the kids are so amazed every time it works.”

These library resources not only help students achieve, they also convey that youth are supported by their community. This is critical for all students, which is why I am pleased that SPPL is now in a position to extend Library Go to Saint Paul private and charter schools. 

We learned some valuable lessons through our work with SPPS. This brochure provides an overview of the onboarding process. We also have resources available online, and, of course, SPPL staff members are available for guidance. 

Thank you for all you do for Saint Paul students. Your work is critical to local families and to the future health and vitality of our city. We look forward to working with you on Library Go. 

Catherine Penkert, Library Director

Program Benefits

Countless free resources to help students succeed. With Library Go, students can access one-on-one homework help, dozens of research databases, e-books, electronic magazines, music, and more tools they can use independently and that can be integrated by teachers into the curriculum. 

So easy, it’s practically magic. Students are assigned virtual library cards based on their six-digit student IDs. In the case of the public schools, SPPS shares data with the library on a nightly basis, automating the process and saving staff time. The system is also easy to use for students who have their ID numbers down pat. 

Fine free. Library Go accounts are not charged overdue fines. However, students can only check out five physical materials at a time. If they have reached the max, they must return items in order to check out more. If materials are lost, students can “read them down.” 

Partnership with Saint Paul Public Schools

During the 2016–2017 school year, the Saint Paul Public Library (SPPL) and Saint Paul Public Schools (SPPS) launched Library Go, a program to provide free, virtual public library cards for all students.

Scope and Impact

As of January 2017, all Saint Paul Public School students (38,000+) and their families have seamless, virtual access to the Saint Paul Public Library’s digital resources and are be able to checkout up to five physical materials. The creation of virtual cards is automated, greatly reducing staff time and ultimately making this project more sustainable. The virtual cards are in effect as long as the student is registered in school. It works through summer breaks and across grades.


  • Spring 2013: SPPL and SPPS begin collaborating to make large groups of students library cards.
  • September 2015: Mayor Chris Coleman, former Superintendent Valeria Silva, and former Library Director Kit Hadley sign on to the ConnectED Library Challenge.
  • January 2016: ConnectED Library Challenge convening held at White House with more than 100 city and local officials, including Mayor Coleman and Library Director Jane Eastwood.
  • Summer 2016: Data sharing agreement and technical details finalized; Saint Paul’s initiative named Library Go; branding finalized and communications plan developed.
  • October 2016: Successful Library Go pilot.
  • November 15, 2016: Library Go launched for high school and middle school students at media event with Mayor Coleman, Superintendent Thein, Library Director Eastwood, and other stakeholders.
  • January 2017: Library Go launched for all SPPS students.
  • October 2018: Library Go expanded to Avalon charter school
  • February 2019: Library Go expanded to Twin Cities Academy

Key Outcomes: Saint Paul Public Schools

Onboarding Guide – outcomes

Getting Started with Library Go

First Steps for a Successful Partnership

We learned a lot from our partnership with SPPS, and have distilled the key steps to establishing an effective Library Go program in the following checklists. 

1. Establish and Formalize the Partnership

☑ Sign the Library Go partnership pledge to begin the onboarding process.
☑ Identify your school’s main point of contact with SPPL’s Library Go team.
☑ Attend an information session with a representative from the Saint Paul Public Library.
☑ Work with legal representation to create a formal Memorandum of Understanding.

2. Review Data Sharing Workflow and Privacy Policies

☑ Identify your school’s data and privacy point person to liaise between technical team and SPPL.
☑Review the library’s data requirements with your school’s technical team.
☑ Create opt-out process for parents who do not wish to share data with the library (required by state law).
☑ Review relevant privacy policies and make sure your school is in compliance (COPPA).
☑Create a process for educator e-card registration.

3. Develop an Implementation Timeline with SPPL

☑ With SPPL, develop an implementation timeline, including a comprehensive communications plan.
☑ Provide Library Go trainings and informational sessions for educators; integrate into curriculum.
☑ Work with SPPL to create customized promotional materials for your school’s Library Go program.
☑ Plan a launch event and earned media strategy.

Data Requirements

SPPL requires a particular data set to generate virtual student cards. The data must be received in the format as shown below. However, it can be generated in three steps.  

  • Step 1: Assign all students a unique number up to six digits. (Codes will be assigned to individual schools to add to that data output.)
  • Step 2: Run queries from your student system (e.g. Infinite Campus) into a tab-delimited text file. 
  • Step 3: Transfer queries via SPPL’s secure FTP site.

For more information, download SPPS' Library Go query.

Required fields:

Library Go Onboarding Pledge

By pledging to enroll your school in the Saint Paul Public Library’s LIBRARY GO program, you agree to begin a partnership between the Library and your school that is focused on:

  • Strengthening learning opportunities by expanding access to digital content and to public libraries; 
  • Putting a library card into every student’s hand so they will have access to learning resources and books they can read for pleasure;
  • Ensuring, through good communication, staff training, and integration into curriculum, that students can access digital and physical resources, and programs with ease.

Through this partnership, the Library and your school will provide equal access to books, electronic resources, computers, and programming, and envision the following:

  • The library is a part of students’ community
  • Students are successful academically and in life
  • Expanded use of library resources will close the opportunity/achievement gap

Signing this pledge does not constitute a legally binding agreement, but merely establishes the intent to enter into a future partnership with the Saint Paul Public Library to bring Library Go to your school. Visit the resources section to learn about entering into an official Memorandum of Understanding agreement with SPPL.


Frequently Asked Questions

Library Go Promotional Video

Library Go Elementary Launch Video (watch the full high school launch here)

SPPS Infographic with Key Outcomes

SPPL E-Card Registration

Federal and State Laws Governing Access to Student Records Data Brief

Library Go MOU Template

Library Go Sample Opt-Out (for parents)

SPPS Library Go Query


Today one of our quasi-regular teens (one of the only ones who really checks out books) brought a friend with her to RV who had never been before. She was browsing the teen section, and asked how she could get a library card, and I explained the normal process, and could tell she was disappointed. Then I asked what school she went to, and she said Humboldt. So I said, if you know your lunch number you can check something out today. She was pleasantly surprised and pretty excited. I told her a little about library go, and she checked out She Wore Red Trainers because it wasn't a fantasy book (her friend's preferred mode of reading) and the main character (Amirah) had the same name as her sister.  - Joey, Riverview Library

"Library Go is so great! It's like being a magician! Kids ask, 'but where's the real card?' But then I walk them to the computer and they say, 'It worked!' They didn't believe it would.  And then they run and tell all their friends." - Savitri, Dayton's Bluff Library

"My favorite moment [of January 7 History Day Hullabaloo] was a "Library Go" story. A middle school student had 4 or 5 books at the self checkout. I happened to be down in the Welcome Center and heard him tell a friend he couldn't check out the books because he had too many fines on his record. I asked him if he had a Library Go card and he said yes. I sent him to Rakeem who promptly checked out his books. - Deb Kerkvliet, George Latimer Central (retired)."