Michael Stephens, Jenny Levine and Helene Blowers

Yes, I know I’m not a public librarian, but I thought this would be a really interesting talk. I’ve never actually heard Michael and Jenny speaking together before (am I like the last person on earth?). Michael Casey unfortunately couldn’t make it, but I was extremely excited that his replacement is Helene Blowers, the brilliant architect of the Learning 2.0 initiative.

Michael Stephens on the Culture of Trust

Michael shows all of the cool things we can subscribe to: other people’s flickr photos, music other folks listen to, etc. We are living largely on line.

Michael talks about user-centered planning. Reminds us that technology is only a tool. Library 2.0 is all about meeting patrons where they are.

Six things for Library 2.0 (man, that guy loves lists!):

1.Marketing: We need to market ourselves, our profession and our libraries. Build a positive brand.
2.Tell Stories: We need to be transparent when we tell those stories. Don’t just spout statistics; talk about user experience. Think about the stories your library is telling with their policies (does it place a barrier? Is it library or user-centered? Does it restrict or enable?).
3.Go where the users are: The user isn’t broken, our systems are (read Karen’s post on the subject!). User the tools our users are already using to provide services.
4.I think I missed this one, but he talked about Web presence.
5.About experience and play. Get staff and patrons playing with technology since it’s the best way to learn.
6.Create a culture of trust. Trust your users and they will probably surprise you with all the good they will do. Commenting in the catalog. Wikis. Etc. Trust your staff – let them blog.

Five things he hopes he never hears again:
1.We’ve always done it this way.
2.He or she is a roadblock to anything new.
3.The IT department won’t let us
4.I don’t have the time for ___
5.Our director doesn’t like technology

Sadly, I would guess that most librarians have heard at least one of those at their library.

Are we failing to innovate because of fear? Don’t not try something because you’re afraid or don’t want to make the effort.

We librarians need to market our libraries, build a brand and try to build a library that reflects the needs and wants of our patrons.

Helene Blowers on Learning 2.0

I think Helene is one of the coolest people who is doing really great things, so I’m really psyched to finally get to hear her talk.

Helene feels like Library 2.0 is all about empowerment – empowering patrons, empowering staff.

Learning 2.0 is all about empowering staff. They wanted to teach staff – all staff – about social software in a way that staff would really get on board with these new social tools. They didn’t want to deliver a training program, but to make staff responsible for their own learning. They gave their staff the opportunities and left them to explore on their own. They were also rewarded for their participation with an iPod.

Learning 2.0 consisted of 23 things, which were small discovery exercises that staff can complete. Each one was very concrete, hands-on and simple, but helped them to become more comfortable with these technologies. People set up blogs and blogged about their experiences with each technology. Every tool that they played with was free to use and was available to everyone on the Web. This is why the program is totally replicable by other libraries (and some are already doing that!).

What’s great is that they opened the program to everyone, from part-time pages to the Library Director.

Helene identified three exercises that were most important: 1) when the users read seven and a half habits of lifelong learners, 2) looking inward at how the library is perceived and what the future of libraries might be (reading OCLC’s Next Space), 3) reflection on their learning journey. I’ve read those reflections and I have found them absolutely inspiring. People learned so much about technology and libraries. Also, it ended up being a real community-building exercise, with people helping one another and learning more about the people they work with every day.

Helene’s advice:
-Build the program for late bloomers.
-Allow participants to blog anonymously
-Communicate weekly using 1.0 methods (e-mails)
-Focus on discovery and encourage challenges (simple, hands-on, challenging, concrete exercists)
-Encourage staff to use each other and work together.
-Remember that it’s not about acceptance or doing it right. It’s about learning and being exposed to new things.
-Continually encourage your staff to play.

I think the Learning 2.0 program is the best thing I’ve seen all year and I’m definitely going to take a lot of the lessons learned from that program and apply them in the Five Weeks to a Social Library class.