‘Common Ground’

FALCONER – The Falconer Middle/High School library is hoping to get a facelift to benefit future students, but not in the traditional sense.

The library has been entered into a video contest which, if won, could provide the Falconer Central School District with a large amount of updated library materials and resources.

The contest is called the “Follett Challenge,” and is in the second year of offering a cash-value equivalent of Follett products and services. According to April Binkley, Falconer’s library media specialist, the district received an email about the contest because Follett is the company that runs the district’s library software.

“Last year was the first year (Follett) did the contest,” she said. “I saw the advertisements and thought that it might be something I want to do at some point. This year, I wasn’t sure (if I wanted to enter the contest) at first. I thought, ‘We’ve got this really great free-reading program going, but it’s not like free-reading is that revolutionary or anything.’ And we’ve really started doing a lot more research, so I thought, ‘Is this really a program that I can write up and do something like this for?’ But as I read through the judges’ rubric and things like that, I think it really is, because it’s all about collaboration and people working together. And this school is amazing at how the departments all work together.”

Upon making the decision to participate in the Follett Challenge, Binkley began undertaking the rigorous application process. The process required the submission of an extensive nine-page write up of the services and programs offered by the district, as well as the creation of a video for entry into the contest.

The submission video, entitled “Common Ground,” was created by Binkley and Cody Whitton, a senior and student intern at the library. The video contains interviews with various Falconer teachers and students about the district, its program offerings and how they relate to the way the library is being utilized to benefit student performance in the classroom.

According to Cody, Falconer’s status as a first-time participant in the contest required the raising of awareness within the district about the Follett Challenge and how it can benefit the district.

“Mrs. Binkley sent out an email to all of the teachers explaining what (the Follett Challenge) was, and then I talked to them before the interviews. I told them what it is and what type of stuff we wanted on the video, so then they kind of had an idea of what to (talk about),” said Cody.

Falconer is one of 113 districts participating in the 2012-13 Follett Challenge, and is the only Chautauqua County district. Of these 113 districts, only six will receive prizes. The prizes range from $5,000 to $60,000 worth of Follett products. Five winners will be selected by judges according to their rubric, of which 30 percent is based on video votes, while the sixth winner will be chosen purely on video votes. The contest allows an individual to vote once per day, and requires a first-time voter to click on a link that is sent to their email address to verify and process the vote. After the email address has been verified, there is no additional step in the voting process.

In order to obtain more votes, Binkley has been reaching out to the community to garner support. According to Binkley, she has been gathering support from local public libraries, other area school librarians and even local colleges.

“There’s just collaboration all over the place,” she said. “I’ve been sending out emails to (the other librarians) and generating some support there because we do a lot of interlibrary loans. So anything that benefits us also benefits everybody else, too. The public libraries have gotten on board – Ellington and Kennedy and the Falconer public library. I happened to get an email from the JCC librarian about something else, and I thought, ‘Wait a second, we could have JCC helping us, too.’ So, they’re going to help us out by passing out bookmarks and spreading the word.”

Currently, Falconer has more than 1,700 votes, while the first-place district has accumulated more than 8,200. Voting for the Follett Challenge will go through March 18. The winners will be announced between March 27 and April 5.

For more information on the Follett Challenge or to vote for Falconer’s video, “Common Ground,” go to www.follettchallenge.com.