by Bob Branciforte
Two white papers co-authored by Dr. Nancy Everhart and Dr. Marcia Mardis of The Florida State University School of Library & Information Studies have been entered into the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) prestigious Social, Behavioral, and Economic Science (SBE) database, “SBE 2020.”
The database seeks to assist the NSF and social science researchers in framing innovative research that benefits society in the year 2020 and beyond.
Of the 244 white papers entered into the database, the two authored by Everhart and Mardis are the only ones that link school libraries to future research in the social, behavioral and economic science disciplines. They are titled “From District to Desktop: Making the Most of Broadband in Schools: A White Paper” and “From Paper to Pixel: Digital Textbooks in Schools: A White Paper.”
“This is an exciting accomplishment,” said Mardis, who has been trumpeting the importance of school libraries for improving STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] education to the NSF since 1999. Although NSF does not endorse the positions of accepted white papers, Mardis views the entrance of theirs into the database as a sign that the importance of school libraries is gaining greater recognition.
Everhart, who is president of the American Association of School Librarians, feels equally enthusiastic. “We hope that our colleagues in library and information studies, as well as other disciplines, will consider the role that information has on learning at all levels in schools.”
Everhart and Mardis are director and associate director, respectively, of Partnerships Advancing Library Media (PALM) Center. The center works to support school librarians and other educators in improving their districts and schools. It is a joint effort of FSU’s Learning Systems Institute, its College of Communication & Information (which includes its School of Library & Information Studies) and its College of Education.
“From District to Desktop” notes that the dramatic increase in Internet use in schools in more than 10 years since the adoption of the federal E-rate connectivity assistance program has resulted in many positive educational benefits, some of which are improved student achievement, attendance, and graduation rates, as well as decreased dropout rates. But “if all students are to realize these outcomes, equitable high-speed Internet and broadband access is critical.”
“Digital textbooks will soon be part of every classroom in the United States,” state the authors in “From Paper to Pixel.” “This trend accompanies an imperative for schools to facilitate 21st century learning in which educators prepare students to learn and live productively in a global society where accurate and current information is a meaningful part of everyday learning. School librarians can be key players in the successful implementation of digital textbooks.”
The full list of white papers in SBE 2020, with abstracts and full text can be found at http://www.nsf.gov/sbe/sbe_2020/all.cfm.