, Newburyport, MA

February 22, 2012

Pentucket High School's website wins Seal of Excellence

By Jennifer Solis

WEST NEWBURY — Pentucket High School librarian Rachel Costello heads to Hyannis next month to receive an award for excellence from her peers. Under Costello's stewardship, the high school's library website received the Massachusetts School Library Association's 2012 Seal of Excellence. The award recognizes outstanding uses of Web tools, such as webpage, ning, wiki, blog and others.

"A school library's Web presence is an important tool for teaching, learning, communication, advocacy, and public relations," the MSLA awards committee wrote in an announcement sent to Costello, "Thank you so much for your outstanding work; it inspires us and promotes our school libraries in so many ways."

Costello has been asked to make a presentation at the group's annual conference on March 4 and 5. She will lead a session on the two-year Digital Literary Challenge she conducted for students and teachers. The challenge took students and faculty "beyond the bell and outside the classroom, alternating library and Web 2.0 learning activities."

Among the activities explored were social book marking, online library catalog, citation generators, online study skills workshops, digital footprints, book review messaging, online giving, database search, presidential pledge wiki, online study sessions, Wordle clouds, LibraryThing and audio creators.

The goal was to not only expose students to educational technologies but also to model good instructional uses for teachers and administrators.

Costello believes libraries — and the schools they are housed in — "can no longer be mere physical spaces. Our virtual presence must be as good or better than what is available in the physical place," she said. Her aim is to provide Pentucket students with access to library resources "24 hours a day, 7 days a week."

Highlights of the award-winning website include a mobile library application to support increased use of handheld devices; a research guide that contains audio files to allow any student to listen to the guide step by step; and electronic pathfinders that provide access to curriculum-specific resources created for reoccurring projects.