I began writing this Oct. 3, but now that I am on fall break I have time to finish it! 🙂 As always, thank you for reading!
I. Am. Exhausted. Last night our school held parent/teacher conferences and I thought it would be the perfect timing to see my passion project turn into a reality.
Our district libraries have been planning to purchase and circulate eBooks for a couple of years. Our middle and high schools rolled it out before the elementaries just to see how it would go. It has been amazing to get resources from them and to hear about their experiences to help us.
With this roll out of eBooks, one thing that keeps me awake at night is the thought that not all students have the same opportunities at home. I wanted to think of a way to get books into hands and devices into homes that may not have access to them. This launched me on a crusade to figure out how we could use our district library funds to purchase eReaders. I asked around the district and was told that our budget categories and definitions didn’t allow for spending money on eReaders. See the response I got below.
“The audio visual account expenditures is defined by the State Board of Accounts. The definition of what can be purchased with these monies is” Audiovisual: Activities concerned with selecting, preparing, storing, and maintaining audiovisual equipment, films, filmstrips, transparencies, tapes, and TV programs as well as associated services. I know what you’re thinking…. This definition is outdate, and I agree with you.”
As much as I wanted to be okay with this answer, I just couldn’t let it go. I couldn’t sleep. How could we possibly be servicing 21st century learners with such an archaic definition? How could I possibly “grow” my students if I couldn’t provide them with current technology for reading? So… I called the State Board of Accounts and spoke to a kind man who agreed that the definition was a bit outdated and that it would be okay to purchase eReaders with our library accounts. He gave me his contact information and said he would be glad to talk with our district leaders. Long story short, the district did agree to use funds to purchase eReaders, but we established a hardware budget line to get it done. Woohoo! The day I heard the news, I was ecstatic! I was on my way!
My next major challenge was considering how to circulate the eReaders to make a difference for our students who don’t have devices at home. How could I find out who didn’t have a device? A survey? A guess? Nothing seemed like it would work well and I was stuck for a while. Then it dawned on me that I needed a chance to help ALL parents and I knew they would be in the school for parent/teacher conferences, so I wouldn’t have to lure them in just for ebooks. It was perfect. I posted an announcement on my library Facebook page and asked teachers to send information via email and hoped for the best.
With much thanks to Melissa Brisco, our previous Director of Learning and Terry Rich our Executive Director of Business, for considering this change and helping it become a reality. As well as a huge thanks to Ben Walters our Network Manager for making it possible to open up our wireless during parent/teacher conferences so that I could run a help desk for parents who have devices and to provide eReaders for parents that did not.
Over the course of two days, with the help of Travis Penn, District Technology Supervisor, Jenny Sebbas, Technology Assistant HelpDesk Manager, and Lauren Smith our Instructional Coach at Noble Crossing, we were able to help 126 families access eBooks through their own devices and circulate the 10 Kindle Fires to homes that do not have tablets or wireless.
The smiles on faces of parents and students has made it worth the hard work and risk taking to question a rule that needed revision. Thank you to all that have helped make my passion project a reality. Anything is possible when people work together!
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
― Margaret Mead