Many of us have had the opportunity to do (or have at least heard about) the 23 Things training originally developed by Helene Blowers of the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County. It’s a training program developed to give library staff experience with Web 2.0 technologies. It’s great that we are getting the chance to understand newer technologies used and offered in our libraries and by tech savvy patrons.
But, in this economy, so many of our customers are having to reinvent themselves and learn new technologies to be employable. For some of these patrons, Web 2.0 concepts and terms, the internet, and even computers are a whole new world that they just don’t understand. Sure, we offer computer classes and assist them with Flickr and YouTube and help them download audio books, but I haven’t heard of a public library that has done a 23 Things program for patrons. For so many of us, continuing education is part of our missions and what better way to educate your residents in what they need to know to avoid becoming obsolete.
The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s Technology Playground event is certainly a great start. And the Aarhus Public Libraries in Denmark’s amazing Transformation Lab gives us an extreme version of how to introduce new technologies to the public (but could any US libraries afford to create this?) and really involve them in the library.
In the March issue of American Libraries, Chrystie Hill tells us in Inside, Outside & ONLINE (see p. 38 and especially p. 39 Where is the library?) that between 2005 and 2007, using a library website was the only online activity that declined among regular internet users! While ideally a 23 Things for Patrons event would be done in the physical library space so confused users would have a staff member close by to help them, perhaps creating an online version of the program (and linking to some of the Web 2.0 technologies used on our websites) would be a way to improve our online usage. It would also give patrons who can’t make an in-house program convenient 24 hour access to an opportunity to learn about Web 2.0.
So are you contemplating doing a 23 Things for your users? Or have you already done one? If so, please share it so we can learn from your experience.