IL06: Public Library 2.0 - Emerging Technologies & Changing Roles: Helene Blowers

The second speaker for the public library 2.0 presentation was Helene Blowers from the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. She talked about the program she set up to encourage library staff to learn about new technology, and this has got to be one of the coolest training programs I've run across in a while (although considering one of the points make in the talk, I hesitate to call it training).Here are my notes. Helene Blowers Why learning 2.0?

  • Because life comes at you fast.
  • Technology is changing to rapidly for a traditional technology training program to be workable.

Remember: Training does NOT equal Learning!

So, Learning 2.0 is different from a standard training program.

The Learning 2.0 program in a a nutshell:

  • Staff take responsibility for their own learning (it's voluntary and self-paced).
  • It introduces folks to new tech by having them use it.
  • Reward staff for taking initiative (everybody who completes the course gets an mp3 player, and there's a drawing at the end of the program for a new laptop).
  • It's like a summer reading for your staff.
  • It's not training, it's learning!

Technology covered in learning 2.0:

  • blogging
  • photos and images
  • rss and newsreaders
  • tagging and folksonomies
  • wikis
  • online apps and tools
  • podcasts, videos, and downloadable audio

The really cool thing is that it's possible to do this entirely with free apps and sites that are hosted by somebody else, so it's not a huge drain on resources. There are now over 300 people at PLCMC participating in the program and about 200 folks will complete it by the October 31st (when the program officially ends).

Take away messages from learning 2.0:

  • Lifelong learning applies to staff too - here's a way to help make that happen.
  • Remember to have fun, the learning will happen along the way.

Other libraries are now starting similar initiatives, the program's been released under a Creative Commons license, so it's available for other folks to use and build on. The presentation will be up on the web soon, and if I remember, I'll link to it once it's up. You can check out the blog for the program by going to