Essex North Shore Agricultural and Technical School

Library media center creates "one-stop shop" web experience for students and improves distance learning with Stacks

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At a Glance

Essex North Shore Agricultural and Technical School
Hathorne, Massachusetts

Institution Type:   High Schools Schools
Related Products:   Stacks

Overview

Essex North Shore Agricultural and Technical School (ENSATS) is a public high school located in Hathorne, Massachusetts. A merger of one technical and one agricultural school, ENSATS opened in 2014, serves more than 55 communities, and enrolls over 1,400 students. Its mission is to “create a culture of academic and technical excellence, encourage continuous intellectual growth, and promote professionalism, determination, and citizenship for all students, as they develop into architects, artisans, and authors of the 21st-century community.”

The high school offers 26 agricultural and career and technical education programs, such as engineering, biotechnology, dental assisting, culinary arts, plumbing, veterinary science and information technology.  To fulfill the school’s mission of creating a culture of academic and technical excellence while serving  the diverse information needs of the students, the Library/Media Center maintains a collection of 15,000 books and a wide range of digital resources, including several EBSCO products, including EBSCO Discovery Service™, Flipster®, EBSCO eBooks™, NoveList®, EBSCOhost®databases, as well as Gale databases and thousands of e-books offered through the Massachusetts School Library Association's Sora collection.

In 2019, to streamline access to all the resources and improve the user experience, the school purchased Stacks, a web-based content management system from EBSCO that allows libraries to build and manage their own websites.

Challenges

For Tammy Garron, the school’s library media and instructional technology specialist, several needs had to be addressed in the library’s website design. These needs were rooted in two main themes: user experience and access to the breadth of content.

“The number one project on my list of things to do was to create the best high school library/media center website,” Garron said.  “I wanted a one-stop shop where the entire school community could browse and search for all of their e-books, research needs and entertainment.”

In addition to creating an optimal website, Garron wanted to ensure that instructors and students across the 26 programs had a one-click, all-inclusive search that would retrieve information and resources matching their area of study.

When evaluating Stacks, two key features stood out – the search feature and ability for integrations.

“Just knowing that students can search as soon as they land on the library website and find results from every research product we offer was key,” Garron said. “The easy integration of EBSCO Discovery Service (EDS) was what stood out to me. To have an all-inclusive search solution that makes in-depth research easy was what we needed.”

Core EDS features are available directly in the Stacks website experience, including autocomplete and autocorrect, ensuring that students are finding the right information as they search.

Solutions

While implementing Stacks, Garron and the Stacks team worked together to ensure the website became a success. From testing various elements to resolving issues along the way, the Stacks team provided a high level of support.

A key feature of Stacks is the ability to easily brand your website. For a school like ENSATS, a large school community needs to know what is available in the library/media center the moment they hit the website. For Garron, consistency and visibility of the library/ media center and its services improved once she was able to create a cohesive and recognizable brand experience through Stacks.

An intuitive website is needed not only when students are physically in school, but also when they’re at home. In March of 2020, as COVID-19 spread across the United States, schools were forced to close – leaving distance learning as the only option for ENSATS. Earlier that year, Garron had pushed for a single sign-on product, OpenAthens, as another core integration.

“When you provide easy access to the school community, it makes a difference especially now that we are distance learning due to COVID-19,” she said. “The library/media center was prepared to go 24/7 when it was announced that we would all be teaching and learning from home. The school community can access information on any device, anytime. It doesn’t get much better than that.”

I wanted a one-stop shop where the entire school community could browse and search for all of their e-books, research needs and entertainment.

Tammy Garron
Library Media & Instructional Technology Specialist
Essex North Shore Agricultural and Technical School

Benefits & Results

The library/media center has seen a significant increase in usage since implementing Stacks. Hits to Gale databases have increased 1,000%. The seamless integration of multiple products has led to an improved user experience for students. Students can easily download e-books, browse databases and locate tips from the library/media center’s “Infoguides.”

“A lot has to do with how easy it is to access and what you can do with the information once you find what you want, including citations and links that are highlighted within a search that leads to more information,” Garron explained. “We are a Google school and to send information to Google folders ensures our students will not lose any information they compile.”

And with improved user experience and search comes powerful praise for the library/media center and the accomplishment of a big goal for the school community.

“I am so proud of our site,” Garron said, “and I have yet to find another high school site that is as clean-looking and powerful as ENSATS’.”

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