Tuesday, June 30, 2009

North Texas 23

Over 300 participants and 23 "mentors" are involved in North Texas 23, an online Web 2.0/Library 2.0 learning experience designed specifically for library personnel in the 20-county area which makes up TLA District 7 as well as the NTLP service area.

We're pleased with the number of people involved in this first-time NTLP project, but we're especially excited by the fact that all four types of libraries are represented among both the mentors, a.k.a. the Leadership Team, and the participants. Although North Texas 23 is based on a concept which has been around for years and was inspired by a similar project done by the Central Texas Library System last year, it may be the first three-month online learning project which involves personnel from all types of libraries, throughout a Texas State Library System/TLA District, networking with, mentoring and learning from one-another. We hope this leads to many other projects involving cooperation among all types of libraries within this 20-county area.

North Texas 23 began May 7 at TechNet 2009 when TCU Science Librarian and North Texas 23 Coordinator Jeff Bond provided a session which described the project and encouraged attendees to participate and/or develop similar projects for their own groups of colleagues. Registration continued through June 1 and was open additionally to all TechNet 2009 attendees and to anyone who was registered and paid for CYC 2009, the third annual Children and Youth Conference for North Texas Libraries.

As registrations arrived, Jeff assigned participants to individual members of the leadership team so that every participant in this project has someone assigned to encourage, help, provide input and/or additional information to and, generally, mentor them through the tasks. Those people are also tracking the progress of people in their clusters. Participants who complete all 23 things by September 1, 2009, will receive certificates of acheivement; those who finish by August 15, 2009, will also qualify for a chance at prizes.

Many of the participants will receive their certificates and/or meet other participants during CYC 2009. At that conference, Jeff will present a session in which he reviews the project and discusses lessons learned so that others who wish to provide similar projects for their own groups may benefit from experiences of North Texas 23.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Azle Resident Provides New Library & Park to the City

Thanks to the work and support of Ms. Janie Rector, one of its residents, Azle has a brand new library with all-new furnishings and technology as well as an adjacent park. The community has planned a three-day celebration, June 26-28, for the library's grand opening. (See http://www.cityofazle.org/ and http://www.ntrls.org/downloads/41653Invite.pdf for details.)

Whether you make it to the grand opening ceremonies or not, I HIGHLY recommend that you attempt to visit this library at some point.

Ms. Rector is the recipient of this year's NTLP Benefactor of the Year award and also won the 2008 TLA Outstanding Services to Libraries Award in recognition of her successful advocacy of the library to the community (population 10,000). Here's some background information from the LiFTA event which included that award presentation:

In 2000, Mrs. Rector informed Azle Public Library Director Judy Whitt that she wished to do something for the community in memory of her husband, specifically A NEW LIBRARY ON MAIN STREET! After finding and purchasing land for not only the library, but also a substantial portion of a new park, she made her proposal to city officials.

Next Mrs. R formed a committee of Friends of the Library, and they visited at least 25 libraries in the area and out-of-state. Armed with disposable cameras and taking pictures of these facilities (with permission), they compiled four large annotated scrapbooks with typed notes for future reference. Then Mrs. R joined TLA, attending conferences in Austin and San Antonio to get ideas for the new library. She hired an architect and a contractor and saw that Judy Whitt was included all phases of the building project.

In her hands-on mode Mrs. R. volunteer[ed] every Monday afternoon in the previous library to get the feel of library operation—working in circulation, shelving books, assisting patrons. She attends various NTRLS workshops to better understand public libraries.

In addition, this extraordinary library patron furnish[ed] the building and purchase[d] RFID technology and self-checkout in the new facility.

Increased Numbers of Public Computer Users

As unemployment increases, and as the government moves from paper to online forms in general, librarians are seeing the number of public computer users increase exponentially. With that increase comes increased demands on staff to provide one-on-one assistance for those who must complete the forms.

Some patrons have computer skills and simply need help relative to information required to complete the forms. Others have only basic computer skills - possibly from doing email only - and need additional computer training as well as help with supplying the required information. MANY, however, have virtually no computer skills and don't have time to learn even basic skills before completing the online forms which will help them get through tough times.

NTLP has scheduled Suzanne Sears, an expert on e-government resources for academic, public and school libraries, to present two all-day workshops on the topic this month. (See http://www.ntrls.org/Workshops/FY2009/e-gov.pdf )

The sad irony is the fact that the increased demands on their time and presence in the building prevent many library staff members from being able to attend those workshops.