Follett: Gateway to Knowledge

Patrick E. Connolly, President & CEO, FollettPatrick E. Connolly, President & CEO "Education is the most powerful weapon, which you can use to change the world”—Nelson Mandela The Follett story dates back to 1873 when Charles M. Barnes dedicated his time and efforts for more than 25 years to grow his book store where he sold new and used books, stationery and school supplies. With C.W. Follett joining the company in 1901, what started as a humble venture took wings and grew into a wholesaler selling used books throughout the Midwest and beyond. Over the years, the business diversified upholding their simple vision to ‘empower education everywhere learning is happening.’ Today, Follett has grown to a $2.7 billion organization with more than 10,000 employees bringing together educational content, products, and technologies to create a future-ready learning environment that prepares the next generation of learners and educators.

As the world’s largest single source of books, entertainment products, digital content and multi-media for libraries, schools, and retailers, Follett makes it easy for schools to run, teachers to teach, and students to learn. Building on more than 140 years of legacy, Follett has been a trusted partner to Pre-K and K-12 schools, districts, and college campuses serving more than half of the students in the U.S. As a leading provider of education technology, services, and print and digital content, the company works with more than 80,000 schools delivering outstanding learning experiences.

Follett’s vantage point and presence in the market spanning the spectrum from early childhood to higher education has given them deep insights into knowing what teachers are teaching and how students are learning, acquiring content and keeping abreast of new technologies and more.

The Follett team has harnessed their insights to help improve student outcomes and shape the future of education. Moving beyond the realms of a book company, today, Follett is a gateway to knowledge empowering learners of today and tomorrow.

Raising the Bar in Education

An expansive suite of customized solutions and materials for any library, classroom, school, district, or learning center, makes Follett the trusted provider for PreK-12 educators around the world. Follett School Solutions provide the content, technology solutions, thought leadership, and expert support to meet the organizational goals of PreK-12 educators. The company’s gamut of offerings includes new and certified pre-owned textbooks and supplemental materials for the classroom, and tools and content to help school libraries become a hub of learning and interactivity. While their software solutions comprehensively manage resources and academic data, Follett’s services help PreK-12 educators in choosing the best content, getting a new school up and running, streamlining logistics, and more. Their professional development opportunities offer unique insight to educators of all types inspiring and informing them.

As the primary supplier to PreK- 12 schools and districts, Follett’s partnership offers innovative products that disrupt the learning ecosystem

As the primary supplier to PreK-12 schools and districts, Follett’s partnership offers innovative products that disrupt the learning ecosystem.

Follett provides an unmatched selection of print and digital materials to PreK-12 libraries, classrooms, and beyond. The vast selection of textbooks, workbooks, library books, consumables, audiobooks, eBooks, and much more from top publishers are offered at affordable, budget-friendly prices. Library patrons can leverage Follett’s Titlewave, Follett’s premier collection development and book ordering platform, for K-12 schools to access the latest titles in demand. Titlewave’s collection analysis features enable them to acquire the materials needed to fill gaps and strengthen the classroom-library connection. With Follett Classroom, PreK-12 organizations can take advantage of Follett’s Textbook Buyback program, in addition to buying K-12 certified pre-owned and new textbooks, workbooks, and teacher’s editions.

Integrating cutting edge technology with their digital and print ecosystem, Follett allows educational organizations to track resources, securely manage student data, and streamline logistics, among others. The company’s best in class technology services and solutions propel K-12 organizations on the path to achieve district success and promote student achievement. Follett’s Destiny® Library Manager™ solution helps K-12 organizations to manage library tasks and assets, track inventory, carry out catalog search, checkout, and more. The Aspen platform is the ideal choice for K-12 educators to securely store, analyze, and track a wide range of academic data.

Follett’s raises the bar for education with a selection of professional services that allow educators to focus more on educating students instead of being weighed down with management tasks. The service portfolio includes expert support for curriculum building, facility management, and library processing.

Follett’s Content Research and Alignment team comprised of educational experts works toward identifying educational content that aligns with standards and fills curriculum gaps. The company also extends managed services to help organizations manage their assets without any hassle. The team can also help streamline processes in inventory management, new product deployment, facility management, or policy development.

"Follett is a gateway to knowledge, empowering learners of today and tomorrow"

Follett’s Managed Services came to the rescue of Community Unit School District 300. As the sixth-largest school district in Illinois, Community Unit School District 300 (D300) is home to 27 schools and more than 21,000 students. And it goes without saying that D300 has to manage an inventory of thousands of textbooks and instructional resources to serve its large population. Although Follett’s Destiny® Textbook Manager was in place, its effectiveness was hampered by a lack of in-house practice and policies.

Textbooks were everywhere, and unaccounted for and the textbook information across the district was inaccurate. D300’s team had a detailed discussion with the Follett Managed Services team to help them untangle the mess they were in. A series of discovery workshops followed to understand the current process and pinpoint bottlenecks. From the data gathered, Follett provided a customized solution that bundled a variety of Follett services as a panacea for the district’s problems. The district could maximize the features of Destiny Textbook Manager and resolve their textbook related challenges.

The Follett team created a new set of policies for handling materials in the district and which employees would be accountable. Strategies were also implemented to maintain the accuracy of inventory. Each textbook was scanned and barcoded into the Destiny system. In addition to providing warehouse distribution support, the team worked with the district to develop a revolutionized textbook management process that was managed from a central office. The partnership with Follett brought forth manifold benefits. Efficiency improved district-wide along with huge savings in budget dollars. Moreover, since inventory, barcoding and warehouse distribution support was completed during summer, the project never impacted instructional time and regular school operations. To cut the story short, D300’s textbook management program is running on all cylinders now, drawing benefits from an accurate inventory system with all textbooks appropriately barcoded, accounted for, and easily moved within the district as needed.

Building a Future-Ready Learning Environment

Follett’s experience is matchless in launching new schools and libraries as well. Follett extends its services even before breaking ground through a five-step process—plan, build, organize, manage, and learn—for a new school or library support. In an implementation highlight, GEMS Academy-Chicago reached out to Follett to quickly set up their library. In 2014, GEMS Academy faced a unique challenge. Everything was set, their new school was to be inaugurated in a matter of weeks, but the beautiful library wore a deserted look with empty shelves. Creating a library in a matter of days is a herculean task on any given day. However, the head of the school knew whom to turn to for setting up a state-of-the-art standards-aligned library before the students entered its gates. “I’ve worked in schools for 40 years, and Follett is the only name I would turn to when it comes to libraries,” said Geoffrey Jones, head of school for the GEMS Academy-Chicago. The Follett team helped create a library that, according to Jones, will be a model for schools in the future. She describes it as something new, exciting; bursting with culture and diversity. The company put together a total solution that included library and classroom content, print and digital content, with Destiny® software suite topping it off. Destiny Library Manager took care of all of the content in the library, both physical and digital, while Follett’s Destiny resource management solutions monitored laptops, Apple iPads® as well as other classroom resources. The two solutions seamlessly managed all the school’s resources.

In a nutshell, Follett is empowering educators to lay the strongest foundation for helping educators drive success for students right through their formative years and beyond. Fanning the flame of knowledge, Follett stands tall as the true partner for educators in laying the ground for a holistic and future-ready learning environment.

- Tina Rosen
    August 01, 2019