From the February 2002 issue of CEA Advisor (monthly newsletter of the
Connecticut Education Association):
When sociology teacher Sue Ludlow recently assigned her students at West
Hartford's Hall High School a research project on wealth and welfare in
Connecticut, her students took advantage of a new electronic resource
to tap into a rich array of databases -- from newspaper archives to state
and world online library catalogs - that put information at the tips of
Like most students these days, they logged onto the Internet for their
research. Unlike most students, they used their public library cards to
gain access to information from home or school at any time during the
day or week.
"Students really liked the benefit of the 24/7 availability and
I appreciated not having to cut and carry articles around anymore,"
Ludlow and her students are reaping the benefits of a new service from
the Connecticut State Library -- the Connecticut Digital Library (also
known as iCONN) -- that combines the benefits of a traditional library
and the Internet. It provides access to an array of databases for research,
with information on almost all curriculum topics for students or teachers
Available at no cost, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the digital
library is accessible from home by the use of the barcode number on a
public library card.
More than a dozen multi-use resources are available on the digital library
for any K-12 student or teacher in the state from any computer with Web
access. To use these resources, teachers or students simply log on to
www.iconn.org. If their school has registered their computer IP addresses
with the digital library, no further authentication is needed. Otherwise,
access is available with the I.D. number of a valid library card from
any Connecticut public library.
A new research route
"West Hartford is a good example of how Connecticut public school
districts are finding that the digital library is one of the best routes
to research success," says William Sullivan, administrator for the
Connecticut Digital Library. "And, because access from home requires
a public library card, it provides an added incentive for students to
acquire a card and use their public library."
Sullivan adds that the usage of the databases has increased dramatically
since iCONN became generally available -- a good indicator that iCONN
is rapidly becoming a valuable resource to students and teachers across
the state. "West Hartford is just one of many school districts whose
library media specialists and teachers have taken advantage of the training
programs for the digital library," he says.
The Connecticut Digital Library - which went online nearly a year ago
-- was created by the state legislature in 2000 in a bill based on an
educational technology plan recommended by Lt. Governor Jodi Rell in 1999.
Two million dollars were appropriated in FY 2000-01 to purchase and develop
the digital library, which was one of 19 policy recommendations made following
a three-month study on computer readiness in Connecticut's schools and
libraries by the lieutenant governor. The recommendations were aimed at
helping to prepare students and teachers to meet the information technology
needs of the 21st century.
"The digital library provides teachers and students in Connecticut
schools with free and equitable access to extensive information resources
that can enrich teaching and learning," says Sullivan. "Students
who become proficient at using the databases will have a resource that
will serve them well throughout their school years and in their careers
Digital library's electronic resources clicks in West Hartford
West Hartford teachers and students have been tapping into the Connecticut
Digital Library to enhance their learning and computing skills. Here are
some of the ways they have used the resources of the digital library:
Wolcott Elementary School library media specialist Kathy Paquette introduced
fifth-grade students to the digital library databases through a group
lesson. Students then participated in a scavenger hunt to find specific
types of information. Fourth-grade students in a gifted and talented program
at the school used iCONN to locate information on heroes for their projects.
Smith Elementary School students found all of the children's authors
they needed in the biography database, while library media specialist
Luci Leone finds the digital library the perfect partner for her print