Academic journal article School Libraries Worldwide

A Site-Level Library Power Case Study of Lincoln, Nebraska: Educational Excellence on the Plains

Academic journal article School Libraries Worldwide

A Site-Level Library Power Case Study of Lincoln, Nebraska: Educational Excellence on the Plains

Article excerpt

This summary of events and impressions from the case study of the Lincoln (Nebraska) Public Schools site examines the major elements present in the community and the educational context prior to and during implementation of the Library Power initiative. A description is provided of the key team members who secured the grant, the educational framework in place to support the initiative, and the new teams and strategies developed to ensure effective implementation of the project. The impact of Library Power not only led to accomplishing the basic objectives, but also resulted in new areas of collaboration among educators and the community beyond pre-award expectations. The Lincoln site possesses a history of educators committed to excellence in the district through longevity of service, caution in adoption of innovation, and systematic planning and evaluation for professional development intended to engage all who might participate.

Introduction

General perceptions an outsider will embrace quickly while visiting Lincoln for a short time are that the people are industrious, courteous, stable, enduring, and respectful of each other and the land. Patience and a willingness to work together are especially evident in the teachers and administrators of the Lincoln Public Schools (LPS). Education is a high priority. Parents and teachers take pride in contributing to excellence in education. Libraries, the universities, churches, community businesses, local media, parks and recreation, and museums are managed with programs and services intended to support the local schools. This Mid-Western state capital city was ripe for an initiative such as Library Power. The dynamics of combining the goals of Library Power with the established local educational base have led to impressive results.

School libraries have been renovated. Library collections have been revitalized. Librarians have, in many schools, become leaders in information literacy skill instruction. Established as a strong component of the district's central curriculum divisions prior to Library Power, the Lincoln Public Schools Library Media Services unit increased its role in collaborative professional development, multicultural and multidisciplinary curriculum support, and cooperative efforts with the local community library system.

Methodology

The process for gathering information for the Lincoln site case study followed the guidelines established by the Library Power evaluation team. From 1995 to 1997, over 400 documents including copies of memos, newsletters, promotional materials, information skill guides, Library Power annual reports, facility plans, and collection maps were examined. Personal interviews were conducted during three four-day visits in Lincoln that involved nearly 80 hours total in conversations with 38 individuals from the local Library Power staff, the Lincoln Public School district administrators, supervisors and consultants, the LPS Foundation leaders, and selected building level principals, teachers, and parents. The case study researcher also attended over a dozen meetings in which Library Power was a central topic, including gatherings of all LPS school library personnel, the LPS Foundation, local school Library Power Advisory group meetings, and meetings of the LPS Board of Education.

Content of the documents and interviews was analyzed to identify factors that supported the successful implementation and possible institutionalization of Library Power. Primary indicators included commitment to professional development, vision and leadership of the local Library Power team, involvement of the greater Lincoln community, and tangible plans to extend successful practices beyond the grant years. This summary is the result of two previous and more extensive reports on the Lincoln site. Each document was subject to review and reflection by the principal participants in Lincoln to validate both qualitative and quantitative data. …

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