The OELMA Board of Directors at its May meeting, approved the renaming of the OELMA Collaborative School Library Award to the OELMA/Ross J. Todd Collaborative School Library Award in memory of Dr. Ross J. Todd. Todd, at the time of his death, was an Associate Professor of Library and Information Science (LIS) at the School of Communication and Information, Rutgers University (N.J.). He was a world-renowned expert on adolescent information seeking and use, inquiry learning in digital information environments, and the transformative role of school libraries in the 21st century.
For those of us in Ohio, Professor Todd held a special place. As OELMA Past President Gayle Geitgey shared in a recent email “He always held OELMA and Ohio school libraries near and dear.” Todd and Carol Kuhlthau founded the Center for International Scholarship in School Libraries (CISSL) at Rutgers. CISSL researchers conducted three large studies in Delaware, Ohio, and New Jersey. “Student Learning through Ohio School Libraries” was the largest qualitative study of school libraries. SLJ called it “the first comprehensive study based on students’ evaluation of their media centers.” In 2003 and 2004, Todd and his co-author, SC&I Distinguished Professor Emerita Carol Kuhlthau, received a “Certificate of Appreciation for Notable Service and Significant Service to Ohio’s School Libraries” from OELMA for their leading-edge study. The article written by Ross and Kuhlthau was titled “13,000 Students of Ohio Tell Their Story” ‘Yeah, the School Library Rocks.”
Beyond the ground-breaking study, I remember the evidence-based practice workshops he conducted with Ohio school librarians. Todd and co-facilitators Gayle Geitgey and Ann Tepe helped those of us who attended the workshops to understand the significance of collecting data as evidence of our daily practice and how it affected our students and us as information specialists. I left those workshops feeling rejuvenated and eager to practice what we had learned.
During his lifetime, Todd “was deeply committed to information literacy and inquiry-based learning, application of evidence-based practice to the profession of school librarianship, and the promotion of research in the school library field. He wrote that his research had three interrelated foci: understanding how children learn and build new knowledge from information, information utilization for learning, and evidence-based practice for school libraries.”
The Collaborate School Library Award recognizes and encourages collaboration and partnerships between school library media specialists and the school community through joint planning of a program, project, or event in support of the curriculum, using school library resources and incorporating the Ohio Library Guidelines for Librarians (2021). Helping students learn and build new knowledge from the information they acquire using school library resources in joint planning with another educator in the school community is a fitting way to celebrate Professor Todd and his life’s work.
Gordon, Carol A. “A Tribute to Ross Todd’s Scholarship” personal communication
Geitgey, Gayle “Ross Todd” personal communication
In Memoriam:Ross J. Todd, Associate Professor of Library and Information Science”
Kenney, Brian. “Ross to the Rescue.” School Library Journal. April 1, 2006.