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Thursday, February 26, 2009

The 21st Century Library

The following is a guest post written by one of the district's librarians.

Three events have occurred since the beginning of 2009 which have reinforced the concept that my library is much larger than it first appears. In January, Pam Pinkerton, the librarian at Legacy High School, shared with the secondary librarians how she has used Survey Monkey with the Legacy students to help her plan the wisest use of her dollars in purchasing books (graphic novels in particular) for her campus. I have begun using Survey Monkey with my students since then. Thank you, Pam, for reminding me of an additional application of a digital survey within the library environment.

The second event was a workshop I attended sponsored by the Education Service Center Region XI. Cindy Gray, Margie Gallagher, Deborah Jones and I spent a day with David Warlick, who reinforced my educational philosophy that we must address a new literacy, a digital literacy, a web-based literacy, as well as the traditional literacies about which we librarians have been passionate. I learned a great deal Tuesday. I have commented that “my brain is full.” As I process what I was taught I will share with my colleagues ways to incorporate this information within our schools. Thank you, Mansfield ISD, and in particular, our principals, Travis Moore , Marilyn Varner, John Williams, and Sharon Ferguson for providing the funds and the time for us to attend this valuable workshop.

The third event happened on February 24, during the monthly MISD School Board meeting. Dr. Cunningham shared with the school board the proposal to purchase the Gale Virtual Reference Library. The school board unanimously approved this purchase. For the first time since we began building additional campuses at each level we now have reference equity. Every student who has access to a computer and the Internet, be it at home, at school, on vacation, wherever, will have 24-hour access to a full authoritative reference library. All students, teachers, administrators, school board members, and their families will have access to this product. Having equity of materials in our library environment has been my dream since I opened the DJMS Library in 2004. The Danny Jones students had newer reference materials than the other middle schools. However, the other middle schools had a more extensive collection than Danny Jones. This inequity was glaring and seemingly impossible to address with our library budgets. Thank you, Dr. Cunningham, Mr. Sneed, Dr. Brubaker, and the MISD School Board for your enthusiastic support and approval of this resource.

We librarians must now undertake the task of teaching our clientele: students, teachers, administrators, instructional coordinators, families, etc., how to use the GVRL. This is a challenging undertaking. I am confident we are up to that challenge. Through the training which Gale will provide and the training which we can provide to each other we will be able to positively impact our community as we prepare our children for 21st century life. Our biggest challenge will be equity of access; however, I am certain that the MISD school board will embrace innovative solutions to address that particular inequity. I am proud to be a librarian in the 21st century in the Mansfield Independent School District.

Debbie Andrews
Teaching Librarian, Danny Jones Middle School

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