Below is the second half of my presentation at ALA 2011 called “Working Toward Transliteracy“. It was a great panel filled with wonderful presenters and I am honored to have had the opportunity to share the stage with such a great group.
Providing venues to create community and share success
How do we cultivate this concept of continued growth and learning within our community and organization?
Providing venues to create community and share success are important tools in moving beyond the idea of just taking a class. We want to foster the idea of the library as a partner in continued lifelong learning.
We are still early in the process of our project, but here are a few ideas that I have been tossing around for the future of our Public Computer Centers.
30 Days of Creativity is a really interesting project that I think libraries should emulate in their own communities. The 30 Days of Creativity site says this about the project: “30 Days of Creativity is a social initiative encouraging people to create stuff (anything) every day for 30 days in June.”
This project asked people to take a pledge to create everyday for a month, but it also created an online community by making sharing and seeing the creations of others easy. They did this through their website, a hashtag, etc. There was also calendar of idea starters to get the creative juices flowing.
I would love to see libraries fostering this idea within their communities. What if libraries hosted 30 Days of Learning?
You could have users share the things they have learned (created): the flyer for their business they made in a computer class, a scarf they made in a knitting class, or a blog post about what they learned in a recent lecture series.
You can also include users that are learning through library resources other than traditional classes.What about people that are checking out books that give them new skills or taking online trainings through a library subscription?
Make this sharing easy for the user by allowing people to share through posting to twitter with a hashtag, posting to a facebook group, and even allowing people to email submissions. This allows people to show off what they have done while also creating an online culture and community around learning and creating.
Ideally, this will allow people to create an online portfolio of learning while also highlighting libraries as learning and creation partners: fostering advocacy and attracting new users.
Also think about finding a way to bring this display and community into the physical space of the library as well. Maybe it is something as simple as a bulletin board or even a monitor that just runs a slideshow of the items shared.
826 National is another organization doing great work and creating a wonderful community of learning.
It is a tutoring, writing, and publishing organization that pairs professional writers with students in fun tutoring centers all over the US. Dave Eggers had a TED wish talk about this a few years back, so you may know it from that.
One of the things that is so great about these centers is the value of having real working professionals providing the assistance and support.
Additionally, they are incredibly skilled at making learning fun. Their tutoring centers all have storefronts that are just great, such as a pirate supply, superhero supply, or time travel gear store, for example.
I suggest you spend some time on their site learning about some of the ways they approach learning and see how you can bring those ideas into your libraries.
Take their idea and pair skilled professionals from outside the library to facilitate open studio and lab times, both for tech and other skills. This could be a great partnership with other organizations. Maybe you can get the local newspaper to bring in writers, photographers, etc. Also, you could bring in interested individuals from the community such as local graphic designers or even the skaters in your town can teach a video class. Then work with these individuals to set up open lab times for people to come into the lab to work on projects that need more assistance with or want to practice newly learned skills.
Or you can set up Tech Office Hours, like Victoria Petersen at the Mancos Library in Colorado. These are one-one-one computer, software, and Internet training sessions and Victoria has done everything from help people create a website for their business to help someone set up their online dating profile.
Foster all types of learning to help people see the library as the place to gain new skills. Have study labs for those trainings that your library provides that are not specifically computer and digital literacy related.
At the library I used to manage, I ran an artist’s book series where we gave presentations about certain artists books and taught different techniques once a month. We also had open studio time where you could bring in your artists book project and work on it with other artists and students from the area. What if you partnered with the local arts organization to have a members come to some of these to lend their knowledge and expertise?
So, those were a few thoughts and ideas, but I am sure you have great ideas for ways to foster learning in your community and organization. I would love to hear all your great ideas, so feel free to share in the comments.