Teach With INFOhio

INFOhio’s Users Council: Feedback that Makes a Difference

Author // Janah Shumaker Wednesday, 21 February 2024

For more than fifteen years, school library staff have been providing invaluable input on INFOhio library services and resources through their participation in the INFOhio Users Council (UC). UC was created to help advance INFOhio’s vision by improving communication, fostering collaboration, and supporting continuous improvement efforts to increase student achievement and meet current and future information needs of Ohio's students.

Purpose and Goals

Users Council bridges the gap between INFOhio and its users by collecting feedback directly from those using the resources. The information shared by UC representatives helps INFOhio improve products and services, all with the goal of increasing student achievement. UC identifies and evaluates current and future products, services, and professional development to support INFOhio in meeting the needs of Ohio educators and students. UC has provided valuable feedback on the online library catalogs, ISearch and Fetch, INFOhio tools like Educator Tools, INFOhio resources, collections, and many others. Representatives share best practices and help brainstorm new and innovative ways to support learning. The valuable insights UC representatives contribute from their teaching and experiences in the school library and classroom help shape INFOhio’s resources and services. Each UC representative is a staff member in an Ohio school or district. These individuals work actively in or with a school library, with the support of their regional Instructional Technology Center (ITC). Each ITC can have up to four UC representatives.

Voices From the Field

To understand the impact that UC makes on INFOhio, meet two current representatives who are making a difference with their involvement in this group. Take a few minutes and get to know Karon Lippincott and Christine Wenning and find out how UC has made an impact on them and their work.

Karon Lippincott is a long-standing UC representative. She is the Secondary Library Media Teacher at Medina City Schools. Christine Wenning is in her first term as a UC representative. She is the current UC Vice Chair. Christine is a Teacher Librarian at Perry High School and the District Library Supervisor for Perry Local Schools.

What made you interested in volunteering to be on UC?

Karon - I have been involved since the days of planning what the UC would become. It is very important to have local eyes and feet on the ground to connect INFOhio with its users.

Christine - I wanted to be more knowledgeable about all of the resources available through INFOhio for students and educators. Volunteering to be on UC not only gives me access to that information but also allows me to be one of the first to know about changes and new products.

What do you see as the role of UC within INFOhio?

Karon - The UC allows local reps to find out in-depth what is developing at INFOhio -- the plans for projects, products, trainings, etc. It allows the users to give input and feedback about those things as well as ask targeted questions about issues concerning use at the local level.

Christine - I see the role of the UC to be a group of librarians who know all of the ins and outs of our INFOhio resources and the INFOhio website to educate our district’s other librarians and educators as well as librarians within our ITC on the best way to access and use INFOhio resources in the classroom and library.

What has been a highlight of your time serving on UC?

Karon - While I always love coming together with other library professionals and finding out what's going on, the highlight of my time on the UC has been to watch it develop and grow. The group has really helped give feedback on projects and ideas that have shaped what happens.

Christine - I am relatively new to the UC, but I enjoy our meetings. Each meeting makes me feel more comfortable finding the resources I need to share with students and teachers.

How have you used your role as a representative on UC in your job/at your school/in your district/with your regional ITC?

Karon - I take what I learn at UC and discuss it with members of our regional ITC. Within my district, it helps me give clear instructions, recommend "just right" products, and more fully help students and staff.

Christine - Librarians from my ITC meet four times a year. The UC reps typically have time to present anything new that we learned from our most recent meeting. We are the eyes and ears for the districts in our ITC and help to keep them updated on resources and happenings! In my building, teachers are becoming more and more comfortable asking me for resources for not only research projects for their students and supplemental instructional materials but also for professional development opportunities and resources.

What do you hope to gain from your time on UC?

Christine - I hope to gain knowledge and to truly be an expert when it comes to locating and using our INFOhio resources. Every meeting gives me more confidence and better prepares me to serve my students and teachers.

What would you say to someone who was on the fence about being part of UC?

Karon - Jump in, the water's fine!  This is a low-risk, high-reward group. You can meet library movers and shakers and help keep INFOhio growing.

Christine - I say join - and become an ICoach while you are at it! INFOhio resources are a part of all of our libraries/schools, and the more we know about the resources, the easier it is for teachers and students to access and use them. The meetings are so informative and really increase comfort levels in regards to using resources, being aware of the HUGE number of resources available, and navigating the website to find everything you need.

Is there something you have seen change or improve or implemented because of UC input that benefitted school librarians, educators, or students?

Karon - I feel like whenever we can make Workflows (the library software) better, or give feedback on the OPAC (online public access catalog), database use, etc there is always a positive outcome. Our recommendations are heard and actioned upon.

Share an experience from participating in UC that has benefited you/changed your perspective/encouraged you.

Christine - Being a part of the UC has given me the confidence to become more of a leader in my building when it comes to gathering resources for teachers and students. The more high-quality resources I can provide to teachers, the more they want!

Be a Part

If you are interested in being part of the INFOhio Users Council, we are always happy to add new representatives. To qualify to be a representative, a person must be:

  • An INFOhio user of at least one of the four INFOhio components (digital resources, INFOhio Library Services Platform, media resources, professional development)
  • A licensed educator actively involved with school libraries AND/OR a librarian with an MLIS but not a teaching license, working in a school library
  • Willing to represent all INFOhio users in their respective ITC, including students, parents, and educators in all types of PreK-12 schools

If you are interested in learning more about the Users Council, check out the UC page on the INFOhio website to read the requirements and responsibilities of this group. Please follow up by contacting your ITC’s library support staff to let them know of your interest. They would be happy to talk with you about serving on UC. Thank you to Karon and Christine for their participation in UC and their support of INFOhio. And thank you to all those current and past UC representatives whose feedback and support have been instrumental in helping to shape INFOhio’s products and services. 

About the Author

Posted by: Janah Shumaker

Janah Shumaker is an INFOhio Professional Technical Support Specialist and helps to support ITC Library Support Staff throughout Ohio. One of her roles on the technical team is to assist with the support and implementation of SirsiDynix BLUEcloud products. Before working at INFOhio she was an INFOhio Liaison/Library Services Support provider. Janah is a Google for Education Level 2 Certified Educator and has a Masters in Middle Childhood Education from The Ohio State University. Janah was also a co-winner of the Spence White Service Award in 2020.

Janah Shumaker
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