CHICAGO – School librarians Joseph Landor and Judy Russell are the recipients of the 2013 American Association of School Librarians’ (AASL) Information Technology Pathfinder Award. Sponsored by Follett Software Company, the $1,500 award recognizes and honors two school librarians – one elementary and one secondary – for demonstrating vision and leadership through the use of information technology to build lifelong learners.
Joseph Landor, the recipient of the elementary division award, is the library information specialist at Germanshire Elementary School in Memphis, Tenn. As a first year school librarian, Landor took the initiative to revitalize Germanshire’s school library program. He introduced new information technology, including free online resources such as electronic databases, video libraries linked to learning indicators and the Common Core State Standards and instructional programs. Landor also purchased over 80 e-books and provided students unlimited access to the materials at school and at home. Further, the library program houses several educational software programs and the library’s website now includes numerous links to websites that are grade- and skill-specific for students, staff and the community.
By functioning as a cooperative member of the instructional staff, a consultant on the use of materials and technology and a teacher of skills that helped students develop competency in the independent use of resources, Landor not only increased student achievement, but also improved perception and use of the Germanshire school library program. “I had to start from scratch to change things into what I knew we could be,” Landor wrote in his application. “Before I became the library information specialist, students and staff did not enjoy coming to the library.”
“Joseph Landor has turned the Germanshire library into a hub for teaching and learning,” said Christopher Harris, award committee chair. “I was most impressed by Joseph’s statement that he met with a new principal arriving at the school to talk about how the library could help the school make progress towards instructional goals and to present his own vision for information services.”
The recipient of the secondary division award, Judy Russell, is the district teacher-librarian for Saydel CSD in Des Moines, Iowa, where technology is fully integrated into the schools. Each of the 500 7-12 grade students are issued a laptop, and the library provides all Internet-based resources for 24/7 access. At the beginning of each year, Russell holds a laptop orientation day, and students are trained on computer ethics and safety. Later, students receive instruction on the use of library online resources, which include the library wiki and blog, e-books, online bookshelves, research databases and online docs.
Russell’s technology instruction extends to other educators in Saydel. Since the beginning of the 1:1 laptop initiative, two professional development technology days are held at the beginning of each year. At these, Russell has presented sessions on the use of social media in the classroom and different platforms for professional learning communities. She keeps up to date on technology trends by attending local conferences and workshops and passes her knowledge on to her peers. Russell also serves on the district technology committee, which sets goals for technology infusion and then works collaboratively with classroom teachers to integrate technology into research units.
“Judy Russell’s award-winning technology program showcases the potential for using everyday online tools to build a powerful digital learning space,” explains Harris. “Judy has not been afraid to explore new uses for Twitter, Pinterest, blogs, and other tools for both student and professional learning. Her library is an example of the transformation that can happen as part of a 1:1 computing initiative.”
Landor, Russell and other AASL award winners will be honored at AASL's Awards Luncheon during the 2013 ALA Annual Conference in Chicago. The luncheon will be held Monday, July 1. Ticket information can be found on the AASL website at www.ala.org/aasl/annual.
The American Association of School Librarians, www.aasl.org, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), promotes the improvement and extension of library services in elementary and secondary schools as a means of strengthening the total education program. Its mission is to advocate excellence, facilitate change and develop leaders in the school library field.