MCHENRY, IL – February 26, 2009 – While it may seem like an obvious choice for large districts, centralized, web-based library management is gaining favor with a growing number of smaller districts and private schools too. Districts that serve only a handful of schools, as well as K-12 private schools, are finding that the greater accessibility, the powerful search environment and the superior cataloging are all reasons to make the move from client-server based systems to Destiny Library Manager from Follett Software Company.
Although large districts are often attracted to Destiny because it eliminates having to service many individual servers spread out through the district, smaller educational institutions are finding that giving students on-line access to better catalog information and a richer media environment make Destiny well worth the move.
Greater Collaboration Brings Grant Money
When Mike Ingram moved from IT director of Orange County (NC) Schools to Thomasville City Schools, another North Carolina district only a third as large, he brought with him a vision of what centralized, web-accessible library technology could do for students and staff. In fact, Orange County had been one of the initial beta sites for Destiny. So when the opportunity to apply for a million-dollar technology grant came up, he thought Destiny would be a natural fit into the proposal.
"The grant was built around collaboration and communication and web technologies," Ingram said. "Fostering written communication is a major goal for the district and the ability for students to post book reviews in Destiny was a real hook.
"Also, we were looking for a more effective search alternative for students," Ingram added.
"Kids were using Google and Yahoo and getting lucky about one percent of the time. So the ability to implement Destiny with WebPath Express, with its focus on educational web sites, was a plus.
"And when I found out we could run the whole thing off a single blade server, I said, ‘Let’s go for it,’" Ingram recalled.
Ingram has been impressed by Destiny’s ability not only to put students in touch with books, but to encourage their own writing as well. "With the book review function, students can write reviews knowing that teachers and other students can read them, wherever they have web access. And the more students write, the better things will be."
"We sure do like the feeling"
Lovejoy (TX) Independent School District is a 2800-student, five-campus school about 25 miles north of Dallas. The district had been using an older library management system that was causing headaches. "It was a very complex system to use and we were frustrated with customer service," recalls Mitci Allen, Director of Instructional Technology. "And we had problems finding other districts that were using it, so we didn’t have a lot of support."
Allen had become aware of Destiny at her last district and recommended the switch. "It’s a more intuitive, user-friendly program, and the customer support was just excellent."
As awkward as the old system was, some librarians in the district were hesitant to switch –especially with Lovejoy bringing two new campuses on line at the same time. But after webinars and on-site training, the doubters came around, Allen said. "The more they found out what they could do with Destiny, the more they wanted to use it," she said. "Since the transition, they have said to me over and over ‘I’m so glad we changed.’ They like the flexibility of the system, and they love the fact that they can make the changes for their campuses themselves. They’ve found it makes their jobs a lot easier.
"Students love it," Allen added. "It’s so easy to use, they know how to find things and they know how to scan themselves in. They’re also really excited about being able to write book reviews in Destiny. One of our schools is even using Destiny as a writing assignment. There are just a lot of little things in Destiny to give kids a voice in the library."
Allen has been particularly impressed with the personal attention she’s gotten from Follett Software’s customer support staff. "It’s rare to be a valued customer in the education field, especially for a small district," Allen said, "but we sure do like the feeling."
Impressing a School on the Cutting Edge
The Polytechnic School, a century-old private K-12 school serving 851 students on a 31-acre campus in Pasadena, CA, is no stranger to technical innovation. It made its library catalog webaccessible years ago. Jody Stefansson, Director of the school’s Boswell Library, says she likes to stay "on the cutting edge, not the bleeding edge" of technology; she has set up a system so students can reach her via instant messaging with reference questions, even over the weekend.
Stefansson is also proud of her cataloging skills; she has spent years honing her subject headings to meet the research needs of her upper-school patrons, who use Boswell more like a college academic library than a typical high school library. So Stefansson was skeptical when the lower-school librarian suggested adopting Destiny with the Alliance Plus cataloging feature.
Seeing the richness of information that Destiny brought into the catalog changed her mind, she said. "What truly ‘sold’ me was that Alliance Plus is not limited to children's books or traditional K-12 school library books; the Alliance Plus database had matching records for over 60% of my titles, which are almost exclusively adult reference and non-fiction research oriented books, " Stefansson said. "I also like the fact that I can tweak the subject headings to match our specialized curriculum."
Stefansson said that students in both lower and upper grades have responded positively to Destiny. "The younger students like the way Destiny Quest looks, and the visual search is very helpful to them," she said.
The students also appreciate WebPath Express. "I have been recently teaching chemistry and U.S. history students and I tell them that WebPath Express is their ‘new best friend’ and that they must always go to it, even if they are not looking for books in our catalog," Stefansson said. "Both the kids and the teachers were thrilled to have WebPath Express available and it made a huge difference in the time students spent doing research, and in the quality of web sites they found."
The training and support Polytechnic School has received are just icing on the cake, Stefansson said. "Follett does everything possible to ensure that users are knowledgeable and comfortable with the Destiny software from the very beginning. This is truly noteworthy because most librarians don’t have time for a wide arch in the their learning curve; we need software that is intuitive and logical and we need training that meets both our immediate and long range needs—Follett provides both of these things along with their everyday support."
About Destiny Resource Management Solution
Destiny Library Manager is part of the award-winning Destiny Resource Management Solution, an integrated suite of browser-based applications that streamlines the control of instructional assets, allowing K-12 districts to devote more time and resources to student learning. The solution includes Destiny Library Manager, Destiny Textbook Manager, Destiny Media Manager and Destiny Asset Manager. Districts can choose to deploy the system in its entirety or select those modules that address top resource and information management priorities.
Follett Software Company is the partner that over half of America’s school districts trust to help them manage everything from library resources and school assets to information for data-driven decision-making. Follett Software Company helps districts of all sizes track and use information and resources more efficiently so their dollars are best leveraged to help each and every student.
Follett Software is a subsidiary of Follett Corporation – a $2.5 billion, privately-held company that provides products, services and solutions to the educational marketplace. Follett Corporation was founded in 1873 and has its headquarters in River Grove, Illinois.