Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Library of the Month: De Forest Area School District Libraries

The Library of the Month is a celebration of Wisconsin libraries compiled by the BadgerLink team.

The De Forest Area School District libraries have been busy lately, from a newly redesigned website at the district level, which now includes greater access to library resources, to many exciting projects and initiatives in each library. The district’s library staff has been promoting BadgerLink and getting the word out, and the district’s BadgerLink usage has been increasing. The De Forest Area School District Libraries are being highlighted as this month’s BadgerLink Library of the Month!

In the high school library, Library Media Specialist Margi Wachowiak reports that “Badgerlink databases are an essential part of our online research sources. Having them as our foundation allows us to supplement with additional subscription databases. Students in our Advanced Placement Literature classes, for example, gather much of their literary criticism from the Literary Reference Center. Yet, for different perspectives, they also have access to Bloom’s Literature.” Wachowiak also shared a story of a new student who came from a district with considerably more technology available. The student was impressed with the technology at his old district, but after learning how to use BadgerLink and Access NewspaperARCHIVE at DAHS his admiration shifted to the library at his new district! Wachowiak states that “utilizing the technology as a tool to access resources is where the learning occurs. We realize how fortunate we are to have these tools available to our staff and students 24/7."

Two students doing research on computers in the library
High school students researching with Explora and Encyclopedia Britannica
Photo courtesy De Forest Area SD
In the middle school, the newly renovated 7th & 8th grade Library Media Center offers students and teachers more flexibility in accessing and using both physical and online resources, according to Laura Shucha. Shucha named NoveList K-8 as a valuable asset for Reader’s Advisory. “As a Library Media Specialist, I have worked with the 8th grade English classes to teach students how to better understand their reading preferences by digging into NoveList reader appeal terms and genres. As we wrap up this activity, some students want to continue to spend time in NoveList finding read-alikes and discovering new books to add to their “someday” reading lists.” Shucha also highlighted a nonfiction inquiry project done by all fifth graders which makes great use of the Explora for Middle & High Schools resource in BadgerLink, which she says “is a great place to refine research skills that are transferrable to other databases and the internet in general.”

Colorful photo of the new library interior
The recently renovated De Forest Middle School library
Photo courtesy De Forest Area SD
In the elementary schools, Library Media Specialists Jamey Stanosz and Dana Franco also list NoveList K-8 as a favorite among staff and students alike. They shared that “students first learn to use Encyclopedia Britannica in 3rd grade as they are learning to how to effectively locate and use high-quality information online. In 4th grade, students learn a variety of skills as they integrate primary source documents found in Explora for Elementary Schools into their projects. For example, a student making a project related to the March on Washington found and used the program from the March on Washington.”

Students using computers with headphones on in the library
Elementary students using online resources
Photo courtesy De Forest Area SD
It’s quite an exciting time at De Forest Area School District Libraries -- in addition to all the projects and programs described above, one elementary school is being entirely rebuilt, and another is undergoing a complete renovation. Both schools will have new library media centers, which will include makerspaces, or “Inventor Centers” as they are called in the district. A third elementary school is remodeling a space to become an Inventor Center, as well. Thanks to the library staff at De Forest Area School District for their support of BadgerLink and for giving us a glimpse into their libraries, and here’s to a successful rest of the school year!

Written by Gail Murray
Resources for Libraries & Lifelong Learning