Self-directed learning for librarians
The genesis of Learning 2.0 began with an article by library futurist Stephen Abram. Helene Blowers, then working at the Public Library of Charlotte Mecklenburg County, took inspiration from Abram's article 'Things You (or I) Might Want To Do This Year' and developed a self-directed, all inclusive learning programme for library staff that explored 23 emerging, social technologies.
In the five years since the first programme at PLCMC, libraries around the world have offered variations of the '23 Things' for their staff, based on the all-staff inclusive learning programme. Blowers, now Director of Digital Strategy at the Columbus Metropolitan Library, recently estimated close to 1000 libraries and organisations have used the programme. With truly global reach, the first library to adapt the open programme was Yarra Plenty Library in Australia.
Surveying the impact of 23 Things
As CAVAL Visiting Scholar for 2009, I examined the impact and effect of Learning 2.0 programmes in Australian libraries along with partners CAVAL, an Australian consortium, and CityLibraries Townsville. Over the course of 14 months we launched a national survey for those who had participated in a 23 Things programme, a survey of thirty 23 Things programme administrators, and conducted focus groups of academic and public librarians who were programme participants. In addition to the surveys, CityLibraries in Townsville, Queensland, agreed to serve as a case study site, organised by co-investigator Warren Cheetham, Coordinator Information and Digital Services, CityLibraries Townsville.
Results of the research project have been presented at conferences in Australia and the United States as well as in published articles. Here is a breakdown of some of the major findings of the research:
Better awareness of new technologies and inclusivity is a result of the programme.
Aligning with one of the most popular category responses of the national survey, the case study findings at CityLibraries also reflect a general feeling that the programme creates better awareness of emerging technologies and offers a chance for all staff to feel included. One survey respondent noted: "Raised awareness of the potential application of these technologies- Had a bonding affect on staff" while another stated: "Better general knowledge amongst staff, and greater use of the technologies with staff and patrons."