This session was really two different topics, two different libraries/audiences, and two different presentations. The slides for both presentations are available here.
The first speaker was Lorette S.J. Weldon. She discussed how she was able to increase the use of her library by using Google. She began by replicating (?) her small library’s (I apologize for missing the name of the library) collection by using Google Docs and creating Google Groups for her users. The groups were used to hold online presentations/group discussions twice a month. She found that the researchers really liked the new method of content delivery and the collaboration of research that it enabled. The users were able to share information and work together in ways that they were not able to before. The use of her library’s collection jumped from 200 users per quarter in 2007 to 2000 users in 2008. She did exceptional work and I only wish it were more applicable to my work environment.
The next group of speakers was Jenny Norvalis, Elisa Day, and Dawn Fischer from the Bedford Public Library (VA). They discussed their ‘Tech Chat’ series of programs. This is an amazing service! The ‘Tech Chat’ program allows the people of Bedford to come to the library, ask questions about new gadgets or social networks and receive informed assistance from the staff. It is kind of an open house where people can bring in their new stuff and the staff also provides examples of gadgets they have. These monthly programs allow people to get hands on experience with new (expensive) gadgetry and ask questions they may be a little hesitant to ask their kids/family.
They have set up a wiki for quick access to tutorials, frequently asked questions and reviews for different technology related categories. It is available online as a quick reference for anyone wanting to know more about the selected topics.
Select staff has been trained as ‘Tech Authorities’ at each branch. It is their responsibility to support other staff members, contribute to the wiki and be the ‘go-to’ person at his/her branch for tech questions. They are educated by the staff at library administration and their colleagues.
I really think this is a great way to serve the community!