BLOGS  >  JANUARY 12, 2024

Unveiling Exciting New Features in Follett Destiny Suite - A Sneak Peek into the Future of Library Management


A Conversation with Beth Hagedorn, Director of Product Management for Destiny Library Manager

Beth Hagedorn is the Director of Product Management for Follett Destiny® Library Manager. After six years of teaching middle school English, she moved to a career in educational technology. She’s very excited to give us some insider informatihttps://www.follettlearning.com/education-technology/library-management-systemon on the highly anticipated Destiny winter release. 

Beth, you have a passion for supporting our customers. It sounds like you’ve had a lot of conversations with them about their experiences with the Destiny platform. Can you tell me about those conversations?

Beth Hagedorn: I think most of the conversations echo that they see Follett as a partner and thought leader – and as part of their experience through the library for many years. They’re excited about what we can bring to the table as we help them manage the ever-evolving changes of what they’re supporting in the library. And it’s been an incredible journey to get to know some of the customers. I still have many more to meet. But it’s been great because I feel like family already, and I’ve only worked here since this past summer. So, it’s great to work for a company that customers feel connected with and have been there throughout their career. And it’s only going to get better.

That’s really inspiring to hear. So, as it relates to the new Destiny winter release, what kinds of things have you been hearing from customers about what they’re excited about? What kinds of improvements and new functionalities are really going to impact their lives?

Beth Hagedorn: The release is quite a large release. We have a lot of exciting and fun features. I think there are probably two focuses. One is that we have added a couple of district-level management tools because some districts have hired additional staff at their district levels to support their library staff. And so we have a couple of functionalities for that type of setup. It’s exciting. 

But the area that I want to spend the most time generating excitement for is our new user experience for district librarians, librarians, and students. We’ve improved the look and the feel and the navigation. It’s an incredible first step for us to be able to improve every area of Destiny. The feedback that we received from our early beta customers, and the customers we visited, is that they love being able to seamlessly navigate from one part of Destiny, such as Back Office, to being able to go to Destiny’s front end navigation. They also like the ease of use and the system and remembering the pages that they’re on. 

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Another thing they love is that we introduced a dashboard which gives them a snapshot of checkouts, and information about how different collections are performing. If there are areas that they need to address, it’s one step to find that data right at their fingertips. The feedback that we’ve heard is wonderful, and our beta customers are excited to share what they’ve used, and they've made sure that their librarians are happy with the experience as well.

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What would you say is the feature that you’re most excited about?

Beth Hagedorn: One feature that I am incredibly excited about is the very first feature that we developed with our machine learning. I know that a lot of librarians have kind of heard the developments and the technical revolution. We’ve been thinking about how to make a librarian’s job easier, so one of the features we’ve added is purchase recommendations. Within our dashboard there is a widget that you can turn on that shows what purchases are happening in the market. You know, what types of new titles are being produced and their popularity. But also, it lets you know what is circulating well within your district and specific sites – like your site. It’s our very first purchasing recommendation feature, so we’re excited to get feedback about it. 

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This is very exciting. A lot of what you’ve talked about is how these features will increase efficiency in school libraries, and help librarians streamline a lot of day-to-day activities so they can have more time with students. Why is it important for librarians to have more one-on-one time with students? 

Beth Hagedorn: Because they have an intimate and deep knowledge of the types of content and literature that students want to check out. I know that oftentimes when I’ve been volunteering in my daughter’s library, I’ve noticed how very little time librarians have for conversations with students. They’re spending most of their time helping students check out or look up a book. But if we can make any piece of that more efficient, it will allow for more conversations with students when they maybe don’t know what they would like to check out. We want to enable librarians to have that extra time to have those conversations, to find just the right book that students will be delighted with, or maybe they had never thought of checking out. There are so many different things that happen, and that a librarian is responsible for that time just gets taken away. We want to give back time to the process and those conversations that are meaningful and that create a love of reading. Sometimes students just don’t have as much exposure to those conversations. We want those to happen more often.

In your opinion, how will the winter release of Follett Destiny help a library run more efficiently?

Beth Hagedorn: Some of these improvements with the new user experience make a library more efficient. Oftentimes the student might be looking for a title. Maybe they’re struggling to find what they’re looking for. So, I search for that title in Destiny – maybe it’s dogs the student was interested in. And I’m like, “Okay, yes, this is the title that you’re looking for; here’s where you can find it.” And then I can hop right back into the office and continue working on circulation. I don’t have to make several different clicks between the two functions.  

Within the user experience, it saves students time as well. Students can find the right book more quickly, and they’re not struggling with having to do several clicks because Destiny remembers where they’re at. So, an ease of use helps with the efficiency to make sure students can find a book that they’re excited about reading.

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What is it about Follett Destiny that brings you joy as a former educator and product manager?  

Beth Hagedorn: Oh, that’s a great question. I was excited because I think that the things that students read can empower them to take delight and curiosity in other things. So, it’s like a starting place. I know that my daughter reads. She’s a voracious reader, but oftentimes she’ll find a book, and it makes her curious and intellectually looking for other types of information. And the saddest thing is sometimes students never find a genre or a type of book that interests them, and they’re just missing out on that opportunity. And I loved being able to be a part of Destiny where we can expand and make that easier and touch more students. Because, like I said, a librarian is trying to do multiple tasks, and it’s really hard to meet every student where they are. So, if we can provide tools that make librarians’ lives more efficient, they get to have more conversations with students. Destiny helps us to meet students where they’re at and enables us to help them discover titles that they’re interested in, in a quick and meaningful way. Then we’re connecting them to that love of learning and love of reading that is exciting. I love seeing it in my own daughter, so I can imagine it’s also exciting for our librarians.

To learn more about updates featured in the Destiny winter release, click here.

P.S. Make sure your school has access to the Destiny winter release updates as soon as they’re available with cloud hosting. Learn more here. 

 

 

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