Librarians Have Fun Mastering Technology

Article excerpt

Byline: Sarah Long

Imagine yourself in charge of an institution thats changing fast.

Your staff needs to learn new skills. They also need to be able to teach and use the new skills creatively for the institution.

This is a situation many library managers now face. Libraries used to be about books and other items printed on paper. The books and paper are still there, but now there are CDs, DVDs, Web sites, online databases, downloadable audio books, electronic games and more. Add to the mix the Internet and the fact that libraries are now in the content-generation business. In days of yore, libraries managed material written by others. Now, libraries are reaching out to their communities with content written by library staffers and community members. Libraries aspire to be hubs of community conversations and dialogues in person and online.

But I digress. Back to the library where you are in charge and staffers need help in bringing their skills up to date. Some staff members love computers and are comfortable with Internet 2.0 features including blogging, tagging and managing photos. Others are not interested, and frankly, not very good at learning about these new ways to work.

In 2006, Helene Blowers, then public services technology director for the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County in Charlotte, N.C., found herself in just this position. Building on her belief that the "Big L" in library work was not about "library" but about "learning," Blowers created a program that makes learning fun. Called "Learning 2.0: 23 Things," its an online discovery program designed to encourage library staff to explore new technologies. Since 2006, the program has been copied and used as a model for similar programs in hundreds of libraries worldwide. …