Monday, April 13, 2015

Library of the Month: Eau Claire Area School District North High School

ECASD North High School Library
Image courtesy of ECASD North High School Library
The Library of the Month is a celebration of Wisconsin libraries compiled by the BadgerLink team. 

In 2014, the Eau Claire Area School District had the second highest clicks to the BadgerLink website! In this month’s issue of the Library of the Month, we will be spotlighting ECASD’s North High School.

To increase reading interest at North High School’s media, the library is set up like a book store. There are areas for local interest, post-secondary readiness, classics, an exceptional collection of Sci Fi and Fantasy, as well as a newly expanded graphic novels collection. The library even has a “Bloodsuckers” for vampire enthusiasts. To grab readers’ attention, rather than shelving books spine out, many books are displayed face out try to let the books speak for themselves. For even more reading appeal North HS uses shelf-talkers to share kid reviews and summaries.

Recently North HS received grants for some fun technology projects including a 3D printer, a 3D digitizer, 2 Makey Makey boards, 2 Power Up flight sets, and a Hummingbird Duo Controller robotics kit. These STEM projects engage students in problem solving, critical thinking, and useful applications for science. The plan is to create a dedicated area in the library for ongoing maker projects.

North HS also spends time working on research projects. As part of their digital citizenship curriculum, North HS uses Badgerlink and other databases to instruct the kids in finding and using credible information. Throughout the second semester, library staff conduct trainings on using databases to find information in hopes of breaking the “Wikipedia/Google crutch” that kids develop. The sheer volume of material of dubious validity is too much to wade through when very little sorting can be done. Steve Olinger, librarian at North HS, says “With databases/Badgerlink we can use limiters to sort the articles by source type, Lexile score, and get help to pursue other topics that pop up as part of the search returns on the databases.” By using note taking tools, permalinks, and citation tools, we make the databases so much easier to use than the Google searches. After a while, the kids start to go to the databases FIRST!

Steve Olinger likes showing his students how to use the Super Search, which searches multiple BadgerLink resources simultaneously, and then showing kids how to narrow their results. “I like the Super Search because it gets info from all of the Badgerlink databases at once. There’s just too many of them to introduce the kids to each one, so they get to see what sources are out there.” The search looks through most of the BadgerLink resources and returns results that you can narrow to find relevant information.

As innovative as this school library already is, they have plans for the future, like creating a “bookmobile” so library staff can do book talks and check out books anywhere in the school. Another project will be to have STEM and Makerspace summer programs. Active and innovative school libraries create active and innovative students!


Written by:
Kara Ripley, Resources for Libraries and Lifelong Learning