A More Powerful School Library Catalogue

Marcia MardisMarcia A. Mardis
Florida State University

It seems like just a few months ago that I received the exciting news that my Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program Early Career Researcher Grant, Digital Libraries to School Libraries, was funded in 2009. So much has happened since IMLS featured the project on its website.

No stranger to funded research, I know that grant projects have a way of succumbing to unforeseen external forces that make implementation a little tougher than was envisioned at proposal time. While this project has certainly had its share of surprises and adjustments, it has also had its share of successes. I’m pleased to share a big one with you here.

Digital Libraries to School Libraries (DL2SL) is a project designed to offer solutions for school librarians’ pressing challenges in budget, curriculum, and technology. As the educators who lead the development of the school’s learning resource base, school librarians must have strategies to ensure learners’ ready access to high-quality, exciting, curriculum-linked materials. In this time of rapid technological change and tight budgets, free digital resources offer an obvious way to fulfill these needs. Teachers are pressed for time to find and evaluate content, and school librarians offer them physical and digital resources tailored to their students’ needs. But how can school librarians keep up with the demands of gathering, organizing, and promoting content in many formats and ensuring that it is easily available to their school communities?

A Promising Solution: Web2MARC

The school library catalog is the one tool that most school librarians can use seamlessly and control to a large degree. However, the time and skill to catalog new resources is not always available. School librarians need a quick, intuitive, accurate way to catalog the websites, images, interactives, videos, and other media they find on the Internet. As part of the DL2SL project, Web2MARC was developed to meet this need. For an overview of how it works, watch this video.

Whether a school librarian starts with one of the many records we already have or creates a new one, Web2MARC enables quick assignment of media type, keywords, call numbers, controlled subject headings, and, excitingly, Common Core standards. The technology behind Web2MARC scrapes pertinent information off the web page that contains the object and maps it to MARC fields seamlessly. As you can see in the video, our Common Core tool is an easy way to search and assign match a resource to a standard right inside the MARC record. And because the cataloger will have seen the description of a resource and examined it closely, true alignment, not just keyword “aboutness” matching, happens in Web2MARC.

Managing the collection is a huge responsibility for school librarians. Web2MARC is pre-populated with records that describe high-quality multimedia for STEM learning from producers like PBS LearningMedia.org, the National Science Foundation’s National Science Digital Library (NSDL), and Utah State University’s National Library of Virtual Manipulatives.

Any record created in Web2MARC can be outputted individually, or for site members; saved; and downloaded in a batch to be imported in any online catalog that uses MARC records. And we mean any because we’ve successfully imported Web2MARC records in open source and commercial catalog systems in use in school libraries.

The ability to build upon these wonderful resources with the school librarian’s expertise in teaching, instructional partnering, and program leadership can help to ensure that STEM learning is infused with the digital literacy components necessary for students to be successful in school and beyond. Best of all, it’s already optimized for your iPad and iPhone!

Now that we’ve got the tool in a solid production state, we are planning for ways to continue moving forward. RDA compatibility, more controlled vocabularies, and a Library of Congress classification version are just some of the items on our to-do list. Of course, training modules and workshops are a key part of our development and outreach.

Thanks to the support of IMLS, I’ve been able to realize my vision for how school librarians can remain vital contributors to national priorities like Common Core State Standards, digital literacy, and STEM learning. To find out more, contact me at mmardis@fsu.edu. Visit the project site at DL2SL, experience Web2MARC, and share your ideas about how to make this work even more useful to you!

About the Author
Marcia A. Mardis is an Assistant Professor at Florida State University’s School of Library and Information Studies and the Principal Investigator of DL2SL (Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program Early Career Researcher Grant, 2009-2013). Her research centers on the intersection of school libraries, digital libraries, and STEM learning. Dr. Mardis credits the brilliance and skill of her development team led Casey McLaughlin in making Web2MARC a success.

The School of Library & Information Studies at Florida State University, Florida’s iSchool, is one of the top-ranked programs in the nation. Founded in 1947, the school’s programs are grounded in its vision statement, People and Information: Making Vital Connections.

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