McHENRY, ILLINOIS - September 14, 1994- Follett Software Company, in conjunction with the American Association of School Librarians (AASL), has announced Becky Mather, Media Specialist, Muscatine High School and District Media Coordinator, Muscatine Community School District, Muscatine, Iowa, as winner of the 1994 Microcomputer in the Media Center Award. Co-sponsored by Follett and AASL, and awarded annually at the summer American Library Association (ALA) National Conference, the Microcomputer in the Media Center Award is designed to honor a school library media specialist who has demonstrated an innovative approach to microcomputer applications in the school library media center.
Mather was selected for the award due to her initiative in bringing the benefits of information technology to students at Muscatine High School's Library Media Center and for furthering the use of automation throughout the school and district.
As award winner, Mather received a $1,000 cash gift, a 1994 Microcomputer in the Media Center Award Plaque, and travel expenses to and from the awards ceremony held in Miami Beach, Florida. A $500 cash gift and an award certificate for the Muscatine High School Library Media Center were also awarded.
Mather was instrumental in developing a network that includes 24 workstations with CD-ROM in the Library Media Center and 25 more stations in the school's language arts lab. The size and scope of the Muscatine High Information Access Network is unusual in a school setting and has had a positive impact on both students and faculty. Students can search newspaper, magazine and SIRS (Social Issues Resources Series) indices, as well as the card catalog, from a single terminal. Internet is available for on-line searching. Four Macintosh LC IIIs handle desktop publishing.
'To me, the configuration Muscatine High School has installed truly epitomizes what library automation and information access is all about," said Charles (Chuck) R. Follett, Jr., president of the 275-person Follett Software Company. "Students are accessing information for their lifelong learning experiences, drawing on the power of the computers and the technology which Becky and the administration have provided."
Matber's model automation program has generated funding, support and plans for expansion. Computers are being installed in the high school's math and science labs, with workstations being added to the network in the district's middle and elementary schools. "The most rewarding success has been the overwhelming enthusiasm generated among students and staff," says Mater. "Kids are excited about using our system. They're finding information faster and more accurately than in the past. They are, therefore, learning more, in addition to becoming skilled computer users."
Mather's advice to fellow librarians interested in taking advantage of microcomputer automation in their libraries is to "seek out a variety of funding sources, after developing a plan of what you want to provide. Emphasize the tremendous benefits technology brings to students." Mather worked to ensure that teachers and students were properly trained to utilize the computers. All of Muscatine's freshmen receive at least three weeks of orientation on the Information Access Network (IAN); each student must use each program on the system to complete specified tasks.
The acceptance of the library media center technology pleases Mather: a survey of Muscatine High's users found 77 percent grading their IAN with an "A" for usefulness. Mather enjoyed the mental challenge she herself faced in automating her Media Center, and in the extraordinary task of managing the network, workstations and software with no training after the district computer technician resigned.
Regarding her preparation for transforming her Media Center, Mather said, "I began by reading everything I could find on the subjects of technology and restructuring the media center and the school as a whole. During the fall of 1993, I took a graduate class on Restructuring Education, which helped me clarify my vision of what I hoped to achieve at Muscatine High School. This is my fifth year of attending monthly technology coordinator meetings held at our Area Education Agency, where representatives from eight or more school districts brainstorm technology plans, and a variety of related topics. These coordinators have traveled to my media center to learn about our IAN. This is an excellent forum for sharing ideas." Mather also belongs to the ALA/AASL, the Iowa Educational Media Association, and the Iowa Computer Using Educators.
1995 Microcomputer in the Media Center Award winners will be selected in the spring of '95 by a committee appointed by the American Association of School Librarians. For purposes of the award, a "microcomputer" is defined as any MS-DOS or Macintosh desktop hardware device. An applicant must be a school library media specialist and a personal member of AASL. Applications are available by contacting Follett Software Company, 1391 Corporate Drive, McHenry, Illinois 60050-7041, (800) 323-3397, or the American Association of School Librarians, 50 E. Huron Street, Chicago, Illinois 60611-2795, (800) 545-2433. Entries must be postmarked no later than February 1, 1995.
A Follett Corporation Company based in McHenry, Illinois, Follett Software Company is the leading developer of library microcomputer software in America, with more than 20,000 installations of its flagship product, Circulation Plus.