Capstone Professional Experience Project
Library Instruction and Media Literacy:
Kindergarten Readiness and Resources for Students, Caregivers, and Teachers
Capstone: Professional Experience Project
The University of Texas at Austin
Polaris LEAP Library Services Platform
Springshare's LibGuides Platform
The Waco-McLennan County Library
Sarah Freeland, Central Library Branch Manager
Following a substantial redesign over the previous five years, the Waco-McLennan County Library has shifted their focus from physical to electronic enhancements. Their most recent acquisition is the Springshare LibGuides platform, a content-management system designed to curate, organize, and share subject-specific resources. Although widely used in academia, LibGuides are not ubiquitous in public libraries. My objective was to create a LibGuide for Kindergarten Readiness, including resources for caregivers, preschool students, and early literacy teachers. The LibGuide has been designed and organized around the combination of the 5 main early literacy skills and 15 skills identified by the Waco Independent School District as important for kindergarten readiness. The completed guide includes curated lists of applications, blogs/newsletters, videos, websites, and over 300 books to serve as an important resource for the community, as a result of the increasing trend in online learning and homeschooling for the 2020-2021 school year.
During the information collecting process, I used a wide variety of resources to read and view information on the topic of Kindergarten Readiness. Some of the more insightful pieces included the following:
- An Australian parenting website, which provided an extensive amount of information related to the development of children within the first five years of their life. The website can be found here.
- A highly rated and imaginative application that teaches the alphabet through morphing letters. The app can be found here.
- A Tedx Talk by Keisha Siriboe about the importance of reading to your child. As a researcher, she studies early childhood literacy, parent education, and access and equity issues within Hong Kong. The talk can be found here.
From the beginning, I started by comparing and analyzing LibGuides from other public libraries. Since many academic libraries use the LibGuides software, I was familiar with them previously. However, building one requires further analysis of some of the positives and negatives of the software. I compared and analyzed 8 different LibGuides, from Albuquerque and Bernalillo County, Austin Public Library, Boston Public Library, D.C. Public Library, Huntsville-Madison County Public Library, New York Public Library, Orange County Library System, and the San Antonio Public Library. I quickly learned that simple lists and lack of information about the information presented in the guide would be detrimental to the overall objective of the guide, and made sure that I would model my guide around some of the stronger examples.
I was additionally provided some information from the WMCL in the form of lists of books that fit into 11 of the skill categories that were currently available at the library. While the lists were not remotely exhaustive, they were a jumping off point to beginning to understand some of the resources the library would be able to provide. However, many of the books were significantly outdated. One of my goals was to make sure that I included information that was current and relevant, so I decided to conduct my own research.
So I started reading. And I read. And I read. From mid-June to mid-July, I read 304 books to assess for the guide. Every 1-3 days, I would bring home a stack of 20-25 books and read them.
To view the list in full, check out the link below.
Meanwhile, I was conducting research for the online resources that were to be included in the guide. While familiar with some of the aspects of Kindergarten Readiness, I would not have considered myself to be an expert when I began the project. There was a significant amount of research that I needed to conduct in order to be able to provide the best, curated list for the patrons of the WMCL. I researched skill development, resources for diverse learning needs, resources for caregivers, and resources for teachers (public, private, and homeschool).
Once I had all my research collected, I had to begin to build my guide. I put together a prototype, got the approval, and began to build. Since I had never used this software to BUILD a guide before, there was a small learning curve. However, I was quickly able to adjust and was able to integrate features that I was eager to incorporate, such as a self-updating calendar, a slideshow, and tabbed information boxes.
Multi Department Coordination
As part of this project, I had to coordinate frequently between three people within the organization in different departments. Although this could be a struggle sometimes (due to conflicting schedules!), it was a great opportunity to learn how to vocalize my opinion, stay true to my ideas, and learn how to convey my passion for the material to different people.
Longevity of a Large-Scale
I got to develop a sense of upkeep and integration of others at the conclusion of a large-scale project. This is a service that the WMCL wants to offer to their patrons in the future. One of the components of that is the idea that it will not only need to be updated, but that the information will need to be reviewed over time. Making sure that the staff understand what the guide is, how to use it, and how to best promote it is a component of that service.