Six school media centers participated in an E2T2 grant that was completed October 30, 2007, to add their collections to the Arrowhead Library System regional catalog. This grant was a federally funded program through the No Child Left Behind program. The participating schools are:
Eveleth-Gilbert Senior High
Eveleth-Gilbert Nelle Shean and Junior High
Eveleth-Gilbert Franklin Elementary
Cook County Middle/High
Cook County Sawtooth Elementary
Ely Washington Elementary
Each media center received grant funding to purchase computer equipment for the media centers. The media center specialists, other staff, and some volunteers, converted over 58,000 records to the standard Machine Readable Cataloging (MARC) format. Now students in these media centers have access to over 1 million items in the regional catalog from their media center computers or from home if they have Internet access. Beyond that, they also have access to the statewide MNLink Gateway. They can have the items delivered right to their media centers.
In summary of comments received from the grant process, students are using the media centers. Many are reading for fun now that they have such a wide access to materials. However, students probably need more information literacy skill building. Students are still “googling” to find information. Even adults tend to “google” to find information. Google has bonus features, such as word suggestions if a search word is misspelled. Online catalog and database vendors need to build more of these features into their search portals to make searching easier. The current Arrowhead Library System online catalog vendor, SirsiDynix, has started the process to do that with a recent announcement of its partnership with Brainware Incorporated. Besides searching for materials using the online catalog, students need to be able to decipher legitimate content from false information on the Internet. For example, information literacy skills help a student understand that a ‘.gov’ site has legitimate information whereas a .com site might require more analysis to determine legitimacy. Additionally, an online database carries journals with authoritative content on which one can place more reliance on legitimacy. Nonetheless, students who are reading for pleasure are building reading and writing skills. Fiction novels and special interest non-fiction such as hunting/fishing books also contribute to the life-long learning process.
The October, 2007, edition of American Libraries included an article titled “Teens and the future of reading,” written by Michael Cart (Vol. 38 Issue 9, p52-54, 3p). This article discusses the Harry Potter effect and how teens are being drawn back to reading because of books such as the Potter series that capture their interest. Teens are finding books fun. Educators are beginning to look at this phenomenon as a relationship between reading proficiency and reading for pleasure. A National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) study will underscore this relationship. The NEA Office of Research and Analysis Director Sunil Lyengar states, “People who read for pleasure do well academically.” Information is available about the NEA To Read or Not To Read study at http://www.arts.gov/news/news07/TRNR.html. The positive impact of reading is highlighted.
Students at the six (6) media centers that participated in this grant program have a competitive advantage in having access to materials when compared to media centers that operate on stand alone automation systems that are not connected to other libraries. Of course, the media centers could not have participated without the support of their administrators and school boards. Hats off to them and the media center specialists for making this a successful project.