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Article updated: 2/7/2014 2:18 PM

Moving Picture: Hersey librarian leads digital way for school

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Katie Alexander, head librarian at John Hersey High School doesn't spend much of her time between bookshelves or at the front desk. Instead she navigates a 168-pound power-sync cart filled with 30 iPads through student-packed hallways headed to a classroom, or performs high-speed multi-tasking in the Student Resource Center.

"I like variety and for things to move fast," Alexander said. "We always have 10 things taking place at once in the center."

Alexander heads the center that opens at 6:30 a.m. school days and has 70,000 student visits a year. With the help of a cart full of iPads, Alexander can help teachers integrate technology into student curricula.

"We are a one-stop shop for all information, training or tutoring," Alexander said.

The center has 85 desktop computers and houses 20,000 books in print and 1,200 digital books. Alexander said students today, with content at their fingertips, have an advantage over students 10 years ago.

Two years into her second career, Alexander spends the majority of her day working with digital material.

To encourage students to use the district's electronic database of vetted information, she designed a bulletin board stating, "I will use the library's databases" multiple times.

"It is the way they will look up information in college, so this is the training ground," she said.

Katie also visits all junior level English classes to teach them how to download public domain books on their school-issued iPads for class assignments. She encourages students to utilize audio books. She teaches students to navigate the vast amount of digital information available to them.

"Students are entering a world we can't even imagine," she said.

The availability of educational resources has greatly increased in the center even though the amount of print material has decreased over the last 10 years according to Alexander.

"There is no difference between digital and print," said Alexander, who believes data content is more important than format.

During her time off, Alexander reads about 100 young adult books digitally or in print each year.

"I believe there is room for both -- I constantly have a book going on my iPad," she said.

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