Library Connections

Entries Tagged as school libraries

WOW! Our Libraries Are a Changin'!

March 13, 2013 · 3 Comments

School libraries are learning laboratories where information, technology and inquiry come together to assist with 21st century learning. Our school media specialists and library support staff are committed to providing the resources students need— both traditional (books) and modern (digital) — not only to complete their assignments, but to take them to a different level.

Our district’s library/media program has undergone a 21st century transformation over the course of the past 17 months. We went from NO access (meaning students couldn’t even log into their own accounts) to 24/7 access, allowing students and staff to interact with traditional library resources and access digital content using traditional computers or mobile devices from both school and home. And that’s not all. For those
students who do not have online access at home, we bring the library to them through “Ready, Set, (W)eRead,” an innovative ereader checkout program that focuses on creating a culture of reading, life-long learning, and connections to libraries.

Transforming the library from that of a physical location, only accessible during school hours, to one that is accessible anytime anywhere with a focus on collaboration between library staff, teachers, and students has been crucial to supporting our goals:

• Promote reading and literacy efforts
• Cultivate a love of and excitement for reading
• Increase the number of books that are read by students

Through a distributed leadership approach, various media library staff have taken thelead and/or participate in a variety of collaborative projects and the implementation of a variety of tools/strategies, including:

  • Increasing Patron Access - login, use of book holds and lists
  • There’s an App for That - DestinyQuest, Follett Digital Reader, Follett
    , and Access My Library apps
  • One Search Resources - Gale, Atomic Learning, Learn360
  • Book Ratings/Reviews
  • eBook Authoring
  • Ready, Set, (W)eRead! - digital book/ereader home checkout program
  • BookTubes - promotional video trailers created by students and shared with other students
  • Reading Counts -reading incentive program
  • Gift of Literacy - 1st grade reading promotion program
  • Battle of the Books

In a world cluttered with information, our media specialists work with classroom teachers and other learning specialists to get students the tools and skills they need to navigate the complicated virtual world and prepare for living, working and lifelong learning in the 21st century.

Far from shrinking into irrelevance, our libraries are embracing the opportunities for students to become discriminating users in a diverse information landscape and to develop the intellectual scaffolds for learning deeply through information. School libraries are the school’s physical and virtual learning commons where inquiry, thinking, imagination, discovery, and creativity are central to students’ information-to knowledge journey, and to their personal, social and cultural growth.

Over the next few months, I’ll be sharing with you some of the ways in which we have integrated resources (e.g. Learn360, Gale, Atomic Learning, Project Gutenberg, Follett ebooks), into our library system and about the changes that we went through in order to provide access to these resources using either a traditional computer or app from school and home.

I’ll also talk about the role that our media specialists play in rolling out library resources and how we are working to integrate library resources into the classroom — an old model where the library is the heart of the school in a
new way where — where the “library without walls” provides anywhere, anytime access.

WOW. Or I suppose I should say LWOW — libraries without walls.

Lynn Lary is the Instructional Technology
Specialist & Media/Library Coordinator for
the Springfield Public Schools in Springfield,
Oregon where she spends her time working
with teachers and teacher librarians to support 21st century teaching and learning.  Visit her at Libraries without Walls — a professional development resource for classroom teachers.

Please take a moment to introduce yourself to Lynn in the comments below.

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3 CommentsTags: Libraries Without Walls · school libraries

New Series: The Learning Library: "Help, I'm on Information Overload!"

February 11, 2013 · 10 Comments

I read a quote by a user exchange goddess whose sole purpose in life is to make yours easier--at least online. She says that "People become librarians because they know too much. Their knowledge extends beyond mere categories. They cannot be confined to disciplines. Librarians are all-knowing and all-seeing. They bring order to chaos. They bring wisdom and culture to the masses. They preserve every aspect of human knowledge. Librarians rule." (Erica Firment,

Erica, if you ever read this, I thank you. You are a woman of my own heart. I'm not sure about all-knowing, but we all have a similar purpose: to bring together information and those who seek it. And though our resource medium may be changing, our goals never will.

Today the 21st century library is becoming a space without walls. Information is available every minute of every day to everyone with access to the web, in any location with "bars". This is both a blessing and a curse for us and for our users. Remember the ancient days… of 1999? Back when you got web hours in the form of an AOL disk; back in the time before the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and UCITA, before terms such as information overload and information explosion. Those were the days that most people had to wait for the library to open to find out the magnitude of the largest earthquake on record (Chile, 1960, 9.5) or who won the gold medal for archery in 1972 (John Williams of the USA). I can hardly remember the time when my paper calendar reminded me it was Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday rather than the day’s Google doodle.

But today, in a world where it takes just seconds to get to information, librarians are better suited than anyone to guide information seekers through the millions of hits returned from a random Google search. And further, it is our duty as school librarians to instill good information seeking behaviors in our students at a young age. We can do so by taking advantage of some of the tools, tips, and tricks that are already out there. I am a huge advocate of not having to reinvent the wheel. There just aren’t enough hours in the day!

So with that I welcome this blog series, The Learning Library. I hope to touch on some of the tools, tips, and tricks that I have learned so you can get back to what’s most important. So go, bring order to chaos, and I’ll see you in a couple weeks!

Ever onward.

Please join us in welcoming Ruth in the comments below.

Ruth is the Supervisor of Library Services at Tustin Unified School District. Ruth spent most of her childhood at the beach or with her nose in a book—oftentimes both. Though reading and writing are her passions, promoting libraries, librarians, and information literacy is the foundation of her personal and professional objectives.

She lives with her husband and their French Bulldog in Irvine, California. Ruth will also be pinning resources for her Learning Library column on our Pinterest account- You can comment on this blog or follow her on Twitter @MssLIS.

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10 CommentsTags: library-classroom connection · Learning Library · school libraries

April is National School Library Month

April 09, 2012 · 33 Comments

I love the spring.  This year in our neck of the woods has been especially beautiful as we’ve been experiencing milder than normal temps, so the flowers are blooming, the grass is turning green, and it has made for a wonderful celebration of spring! 

But another reason I love the springtime is because April is National School Library Month!  What could be better than an entire 30 days devoted to celebrating and recognizing all that the school library program brings to the school community?  National School Library Month is the perfect opportunity for school librarians to get out there and spread the message throughout the school and the community about what 21st century school libraries look like and what 21st century school librarians do! 

I could spend this entire blog post just telling you the history behind the month, but it will be so much easier if you listen to the podcast with Lucille Thomas who spearheaded the establishment of school library month almost 30 years ago.  There is also additional history and documentation provided by AASL as well.

The School Library Month Committee has been hard at work pulling together a variety of tools and resources to help you celebrate National School Library Month.   There are flyers, public service announcements, ideas, podcasts, webinars, and even a student video contest (deadline for submissions is over, but winners will be announced in mid-April!).  You can access all of these on the AASL website –

National School Library Month is the perfect opportunity to get the word out about the great things happening in your school library.  There are countless ideas you could do:

•    Special programming or events.
•    Invite parents, administrators, and legislators to come in and tour the program and facility.
•    Share what students think about the school library in newsletters, flyers, etc.
•    Create a video to post on the library website about how the library impacts students and staff.
•    Research contests to get students using library resources.
•    Unveil new resources – books, eBooks, databases, etc.

My guess is you’ll be able to think of a lot better ideas than I did in just a few minutes, but the possibilities are endless.  The AASL website has lots of great ideas, too.  Many of the Advocacy Tips of the Day would make great ways to promote National School Library Month, too. 

Make sure that everyone in your school knows that April is National School Library Month and just exactly what the school library does to support students in preparing them for their future.  But, don’t let it end there.  It is always great to have a month to celebrate school libraries, but in the back of your mind thinking about celebrating school libraries all year long.  We can’t rest after the 30 days this month.  School librarians have to constantly and consistently be working on advocating and promoting what they are doing each and every day for students.

Happy School Library MonthCarl is the librarian at North Elementary School in Noblesville, Indiana and the 2011-2012 President of the American Association of School Librarians.  He can be reached at or @caharvey2 on Twitter.  He blogs at Library Ties –

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33 CommentsTags: library advocacy · school libraries · school library month

Welcome to the Sophomore Year for Emerging Tech

August 04, 2011 · 5 Comments

edWeb.netAs the founder of, a professional social network for the education community, I was struggling with how to build active and engaged communities on our website.

Then I attended Michelle Luhtala’s presentation at CoSN in March of 2010 on “Using Web 2.0 to Embed 21st Century Learning,” and I got an idea. Why not use Web 2.0 tools to spread the word about this to other school librarians?

Michelle (Head Librarian at New Canaan High School and winner of the 2010 School Library of the Year Award) uses many social networking tools and free collaborative technologies that are often banned in schools. After her presentation, I approached her with the idea of extending her presentation into a series of free monthly webinars embedded in a social networking community on She loved the idea.

We launched “Using Emerging Technology to Advance Your School Library Program” in July of 2010, and could tell right away that we were onto a good idea. In spite of our initial technical challenges with the webinar platform, the librarians in the webinar would say, “Hey, this is just what happens at school!” Michelle is a fabulous presenter with so many innovative ideas. Members love connecting with her, and with each other every month.

We found the right tool ( so we can incorporate video, text chat and polling so Michelle’s presentations are very personal and interactive. Each session includes lots of time for participants to text questions to Michelle, which she answers “live.” After the webinar, the conversation continues online through our community discussion forums. Emerging Tech creates a sense of community and connectedness that you rarely get from webinars – and even from online communities.

Over the past year, Emerging Tech has grown to 2,400 members. We hear from members all the time about how much they appreciate the program. The archived webinar recordings are a great feature of the program. Librarians can join the program at any time and catch up by watching any of the past programs.

Our members asked for CE certificates for participation, and we’ve been amazed at how valuable these certificates have been even though we are not an accredited program. If teachers could receive accredited CE certificates for participating in online Web 2.0 programs, we know the use of this kind of Web 2.0 technology would spread faster.

Emerging Tech would not have been possible without the support of Follett Software Company. Their offer to sponsor the program for an initial trial of three months and willingness to support our Web 2.0 experiment was truly visionary, and we can’t thank them enough! Two months into the program, Michael Campbell, the Director of Marketing, called me to say that Follett wanted to sponsor the program for the full year, and now Follett is sponsoring the sophomore year of Emerging Tech.

When Michelle started a discussion thread in Emerging Tech – “What do you want on the syllabus next year?” she received 80 posts of requests for topics to address! In July, we launched Year 2 – the Sophomore Year of the program. And it looks like we have enough topics to keep this going for quite some time. Emerging Tech has become a model for other Web 2.0 PD programs we are offering on

Any librarian or educator is welcome to join Emerging Tech and can sign up at We hope to see many of you there!

Lisa SchmuckiLisa Schmucki is the founder and CEO of, a professional social network for the education community. is free for all educators and schools. Join edweb at

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5 CommentsTags: edtech · Professional Learning Communities · Social Media Tools · edweb · learning · library · school libraries · social networking in education

Social Media in Education

June 06, 2011 · 10 Comments

Social media brings excitement and interest to learning and empowers students to grow as global and digital citizens. One obvious example of an educator who is embracing this technology to engage students is Van Meter Community School Librarian Shannon McClintock Miller (@shannonmmiller). We were fortunate to have Shannon present her ideas on the Positive Effects of Social Media in Education at our New Leaf in Learning Conference, which took place in March. It was a standing-room only session that illustrated how this trailblazer's confidence in social media as a constructive learning tool is paying off.

The session was recorded and is embedded below – if you can’t see the video, click here.

As she makes clear in the video, teachers and librarians don't need to fear social media—they need to encourage kids to use it to advance learning and show them constructive ways to utilize the tools. Using social media in her school allows Shannon to connect with other teachers and classrooms well beyond her district, and her students are sharing, publishing, discussing, creating and collaborating with peers and other teachers around the world.

"Social media brings excitement, currency and engagement," she told us. "It gives kids a voice and enriches their learning experiences by letting them connect with individuals, groups and experiences around the world."

As audience members expressed concern about kids wasting time texting from their cell phones and reading Facebook posts instead of participating in class, this enthusiastic educator pointed out that a driven instructor can steer students toward using social media productively, so that they don't have time or desire to use it in the ways many teachers and parents fear. She also described how the administration at Van Meter was 'on board' with her use of social media because everything is transparent—there are no secrets—and she takes the time to teach etiquette and literacy so all students strive to use social media wisely.

But don’t take her word for it. During the session, Shannon made it easy for everyone to get ideas and see social media in action by letting her students do the talking. As a group of students appeared on the screen live via Skype, each student greeted Miller enthusiastically then told the audience about their individual projects using Animoto, Skype, Facebook, iMovie, YouTube, Flickr and others. The audience immediately saw the power of social media through the students' own stories.

What positive effects are you seeing by using social media in education? Share your stories below!

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10 CommentsTags: edtech · library-classroom connection · Professional Learning Communities · Social Media Tools · library · library advocacy · school libraries · social networking in education · stories

They call it learning

May 19, 2011 · 25 Comments

They call it fishingEvery summer for many years, a friend of the family, a retired teacher, could be found hip deep in the cold water of the Rio Grande, his fishing line splayed out into the river, and the sun reflecting off the rushing water. It took such patience to wade out there and cast the perfect arc of his line so that it sunk right where he aimed. And he’d wait, and wait and sometimes reel one in and pocket it into his creel. Sometimes he’d come home empty handed. Every year through Oklahoma winters he’d sit contentedly making flies, and each one was directed to a different kind of fish, and each one was a work of art. This planning and building was important to the process. When asked why he did this: plan, create, practice and perfect his craft—especially since it didn’t always result in bringing home any fish—he’d just say: “Well,you know… they call it fishing. Not catching."

What an amazing thought that is: to think about process, and how sometimes the results are not the point. In education today, the emphasis, we are told, is to be placed on the product – and the results had better point to success. Did we “reel in” our students and teach them what they needed to know so that they can pass the test? I hope that when one comes to visit our school libraries that what they see are teachers who are standing back and helping their students demonstrate their interest, creativity and learning using the tools that we can offer.

I hope that the process is as valued as the product and that one day, someone will walk through those doors, look around and say: “Well, you know… they call it learning. Not teaching.”

Connie Williams is a high school librarian and an advocate for school libraries. Connie loves to read and loves talking 'story' with others. You can contact her via email, or leave a comment below. She also wants to see YOU this week in Chicago!

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25 CommentsTags: Inquiring Minds in the Library · learning · library advocacy · school libraries · stories

Banned Sites Week

May 16, 2011 · 4 Comments

We seem to be at a critical juncture in the struggle against overzealous filtering in schools. Many administrators indicate that they are ready to unblock social media sites, but claim that network administrators and lawyers caution them against it. There is a lot of misinformation about federal regulation in this realm. To demystify the issue of e-rate funding and CIPA (Children’s Internet Protection Act) compliance, Tina Barseghian, of MindShift at KQED in San Francisco posted an interview with Karen Cator, U.S. Department of Education’s Director of Education Technology on April 26, 2011. A few weeks earlier, Lisa Nielsen (The Innovative Educator) and Tom Whitby (My Island View) address some of these issues in their co-authored blog post, The World's Simplest Online Safety Policy (April 3, 2011). In February, COSN (Consortium for School Networking) outlined recommended guidelines for Acceptable Use Policies in Web 2.0 and Mobile Era (February 18, 2011).

Students today lead dual lives – their interactive social life and their “receptive” academic life. At the end of the school day, young people log on and engage online with peers. They share resources, express themselves, opine on their friends' content and activities and the world at large. They are contributors in their social world. But in school, collaboration often begins and ends with “group projects” – which, in many cases, feel contrived in contrast to the organic participatory culture students experience outside of school. In order to inculcate that same participatory culture into students’ academic life, and channel it toward productivity, it is important to provide them with a wide range of online edu-social experiences. Unfortunately, portals for online social interaction are often blocked in schools. We are thus denying students critical learning opportunities about digital citizenship, collaboration and communication. If we are not teaching these skills in a relevant, real-world context, we are failing to teach them how to apply our lessons to their “other life.”

To highlight the importance of the First Amendment, the American Library Association (ALA) has a longstanding tradition of celebrating the freedom to read -Banned Books Week (BBW) – during the last week in September. Librarians are enlisted to feature frequently challenged books. This is a most worthy cause as it celebrates our freedom to access information and exposes censorship. At New Canaan High School, which is a free-range media/BYOD, public high school in Connecticut, we will extend censorship awareness week into a two week intellectual freedom celebration, prefacing Banned Books Week with Banned Sites Week from September 17-24, 2011, and feature sites that are commonly banned in schools – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Skype, Blogger, etc. We hope that other districts will join in this initiative. Got questions about CIPA compliance? Answers here. And for more information about using social media for instruction, please visit my blog at

Michelle LuhtalaMichelle Luhtala is the Department Chair of New Canaan High School Library, which won several 2010 awards including the National School Library Program of the Year Award. She also facilitate a 2,000+ member online professional learning community for school librarians called Using Emerging Technology to Improve Your Library Program at, where she presents monthly webinars (they are all archived online). Michelle is a regular conference presenter. She is co-authoring a forthcoming book, Relevant Librarian: a 21st Century Guide to the Responsive Library, and contributing a chapter to a forthcoming book called School Librarians as Leaders in Professional Development. She blogs at

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4 CommentsTags: library-classroom connection · banned sites week · library · library advocacy · school libraries

Guide to Cataloging for Kids featuring Ms. MARC

March 24, 2011 · 2 Comments

Does your job require you to organize materials for children and young adults? A one-stop guide for cataloging and organizing information for children is the fifth edition of “Cataloging Correctly for Kids: An Introduction to the Tools” published by the American Library Association. This handbook provides an overview of how to effectively catalog materials for children and young adults including topics such as copy cataloging, subject heading access using Library of Congress Children’s Subject Headings and Sears subject headings, classifying materials with the Dewey Decimal Classification system, cataloging non-book materials, cataloging for non-English speaking and preliterate children, cataloging using AACR2, MARC 21 and using the new cataloging standard of RDA.

A chapter titled “Automating the Children’s Catalog” by Follett’s “Ms. MARC,” Judy Yurczyk, provides information on the steps needed to automate a catalog, from the first step of selecting an integrated library system (ILS), to the creation of a high quality database via the retrospective conversion process with guidelines on how to prepare for this process, to the ongoing maintenance of the database once it has been created. Cataloging Correctly for Kids is available in print, e-book, and a print/e-book bundle from the ALA store.

Ms. MARCJudy Yurczyk assumed the role of Ms. MARC 10 years ago and answers many cataloging questions from school library staff just like you! In addition to writing "Tag of the Month," Judy is an integral part of maintaining Follett's Alliance MARC record databases. The author of Follett's past publications of MARC Bibliographic Format Guide and MARC Authority Format Guide, Judy has taught MARC workshop classes throughout the country. Judy received her MLS from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. She is a member of the American Library Association (ALA), the Association for Library Collections and Technical Services (ALCTS) and its Cataloging and Classification Section (ALCTS/CCS), and Online Audiovisual Catalogers (OLAC). She has served as a member of the Vendor Relations Committee and ALCTS/CCS Cataloging of Children's Materials Committee.

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2 CommentsTags: keyword research · library · MARC · school libraries

Plugged in… Wait! Let’s stop and smell the roses.

March 07, 2011 · 3 Comments

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I’m very lucky to get to walk to work, and living in California allows me to do so just about every day. When I walk I’m usually ‘plugged in’ to my iPod listening to the news, the stories on This American Life or practicing my Spanish. It’s a walk through a series of neighborhoods that border farmland hills. It’s been a little wet lately and just about everyone has been keeping a low outdoor profile.

But today was a fantastic reminder that Spring is on its way. On my way home I discovered that my batteries were too low to listen to anything, so I pocketed the iPod and walked on home.

…and this is what I listened to instead: The barking of the big [really huge] black dog that lives in the red house, and the responses of the many other dogs on the route. Many different birds singing. Wild turkeys gobbling. The rushing water from the creek overflowing its banks after the rain. A little boy screaming in delight on the swing in the park. The cows on the hills and some chickens in someone’s back yard. And the call-out from a friend riding by on her bike.

It all felt pretty magical and it reminded me to stop and un-plug myself now and then so that I can take advantage of the other kinds of communication that goes on around us each day.

And then this reminded me of how plugged in we are every day at school – computers, phones, video cameras, LCD projectors… They all compete for our attention and all our senses.

It reminded me about when I worked in the junior high school and the many times things would get just a little bit overwhelming… so I’d call a ‘time out’ and announce that the next Friday would be a “Read & Eat Friday.” Students were invited to bring their lunch and grab some reading material, and find a comfy spot to sit and read. No talking, no computers, nothing but quiet, relaxing reading time. It was a very popular event and students asked for them regularly. Watching kids sprawl on beanbag chairs, huddle between the stacks, sit at tables or lie down next to the window while they ate lunch and read was a delight. It’s great to think of ways to use the library space not only as the creative, dynamic space it often is, but also as the place to retreat, relax and enjoy a good read.

All this looking forward to Spring, relishing the reminder that it’s good to take stock and appreciate all that we have, and taking those deep revitalizing breaths allows us to gear up for some very cool events.

Next week is the Follett conference – it’s going to be an exciting few days of conference sessions, but what I’m really looking forward to is meeting up with other Follett Software users to compare notes and talk about how different schools and different librarians manage all the ins and outs of not only handling library and textbook resources, but to chat about how we can better serve our students instructionally.

Back into the plugged-in mode, on March 24th at 11:30 am Central Time, Follett Software is sponsoring a School Library Journal webinar on ways to spread the word about the good things that happen in the library. I’m one of the speakers and I’m excited to share ideas - some I’ve tried, along with some that I’ve been working on, and ideas I’ve heard about from others in SLJ, workshops, conferences, listservs, blogs and just hanging out with librarian friends… I’ve seen some of the slides that Carl Harvey is sharing – and he’s got some very interesting insights to share about what he’s been doing too. Do drop in – it’ll be great to have the conversation! You can register here.

Connie Williams is a high school librarian and an advocate for school libraries. Connie loves to read and loves talking 'story' with others. You can contact her via email, or leave a comment below. She also wants to see YOU this week in Chicago!

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3 CommentsTags: Inquiring Minds in the Library · library · reading · school libraries

Why attend the Follett Software Conference?

January 26, 2011 · 2 Comments

Follett ConferenceJoin us at Follett Software’s upcoming user conference, A New Leaf in Learning. This conference is being held March 9-11 at the Fairmont Chicago Millennium Park Hotel, and you won’t want to miss it! Why, you ask?

You will make an immediate impact on your school.
This conference focuses on bringing educators together to learn and share ways in which technology can help achieve your goals. Learn from the experts and discover new ways to use your technology to work smarter. From library advocacy, to social media, to what’s coming in Destiny Library Manager, the conference sessions will cover the latest trends and leave you with tips and tricks you can implement when you get back to school.

You will learn from the experts.
The lineup of special guests include: Carl Harvey, president-elect of the American Association of School Librarians; Irene Spero, Chief Operating Officer of CoSN, Connie Williams, former president of the California Association of School Librarians, plus many more. And, of course, we’re proud to welcome our keynote speaker, Don Tapscott, author of the Growing Up Digital series and our closing keynote speaker Susan Patrick, President and CEO of the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL).

You will attend great sessions.
As expected, you'll see plenty of sessions that focus on Follett Software products. But you don't have to be a hands-on user of Follett solutions to benefit. Whatever your role in the school or district, you're sure to find a topic that sparks your interest or passion for education! Choose from more than 30 sessions led by industry leaders, featuring real-world case studies focused on the most pressing topics in K-12 technology. Here are just a few:

  • Being an Advocate for Your Library
  • Next Generation Librarian
  • Positive Effects of Social Media
  • Transforming the Learning Commons
  • What's Next for Destiny

View all conference sessions

You will have fun!
Sharing and networking with your peers, rubbing elbows with industry leaders and spending time in Chicago are just a few reasons to join us. Visit our conference website to learn more and register at

See you in March!

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2 CommentsTags: Follett Conference · school libraries