The Los Angeles Public Library is evolving from a place where people can check out books and surf the Web to one where residents can also earn an accredited high school diploma.
The library said Thursday that it is teaming up with a private online learning company to debut the program for high school dropouts, believed to be the first of its kind in the nation.
It is the latest step in the transformation of public libraries in the digital age as they move to establish themselves beyond just being a repository of books to a full educational institution, said the library’s director, John Szabo.
Since taking over the helm in 2012, Szabo has pledged to reconnect the library system to the community and has introduced a number of new initiatives, including offering 850 online courses for continuing education and running a program that helps immigrants complete the requirements for US citizenship.
The library hopes to grant high school diplomas to 150 adults in the first year at a cost to the library of $150,000, Szabo said. Many public libraries offer programs to prepare students for and in some cases administer the General Educational Development test.
But Szabo believes this is the first time a public library will offer an accredited high school diploma to adult students.
Applicants must pass an initial evaluation to become eligible for a library-sponsored scholarship to attend Career Online High School, a kind of private online school district through the Smart Horizons corporation.