By Terry Dean
All was probably not that quiet inside Mann Elementary School's library last June 7. Librarians from the two villages, as well as from Oak Park's and River Forest's school districts, converged at the school to talk about sharing resources and implementing a program in all of their facilities to help students research better online.
More than 20 librarians, including those from the main public libraries in River Forest and Oak Park, attended. The group began talking casually last year during the various institute days at the school districts. Kids in both districts, they've found over the years, don't always know how to do research online or how to study using the Internet without become distracted by other stuff online.
When it comes to doing research for classroom term papers, whether in the fourth grade in middle school or high school, some students just don't know where to look or how to look for what they want.
Kathryn Rolfes, Mann School librarian, said she and her colleagues in both towns have long wanted to integrate how they help kids.
Speaking prior to last Monday's meeting, Rolfes said she and other librarians plan to implement a program called "Big 6" — a nationally recognized "catch-all" guide for students on how to do research. It's adaptable for kids whether they're in elementary school, junior high or high school, and also regardless whether the student is in general classes or honors courses. The program, Rolfes added, is adaptable to any grade level.
"It's always a question of what are kids expected to know when they get to the high school as far as doing research papers," Rolfes said. "With this, AP students will be able to follow the same procedure as a third-grader."
The librarians have also talked about sharing resources, such as the very extensive but somewhat expensive educational databases available.
The Oak Park Public Library has the World Book Encyclopedia online, and Rolfes said children need to know how to use that resource. The River Forest Public Library also has World Book online. District 97, she recalled, years ago considered purchasing a similar database for use specifically at schools. She and other librarians, however, feel it makes more sense for kids, and for the district financially, if students are encouraged to use the library's database. Anyone wanting to access the full database needs a library card.
A few Dist. 97 grade-level teachers make it mandatory for students to have a library card. In River Forest's District 90 schools, all students are required to have a library card.
"I think it would be great if that becomes part of their supply lists — pencils, paper, notebook and a library card," Rolfes said.