Where are the 2.0 Classes in Public Libraries?
I often visit the web sites of libraries of all sizes to see what they are currently offering for computer classes and other technology training sessions. Over the last several weeks I have looked at 30+ class calendars posted on library web sites and of those only a handful were offering classes on a regular basis that touched upon Web 2.0 technologies.
I looked at the training calendars of 4 very large library systems and did not see any indication that they were teaching 2.0 and (in fact) they were still mainly teaching classes such as “Meet the Mouse” and “Intro to Email”. I know these classes are still needed by many and I am in no way advocating that they be replaced nor implying that they are obsolete. Courses for beginners are still crucial, but they do need to be supplemented to meet the needs of the more advanced computer user. Class offerings need to be kept current to keep training programs fresh.
My question of the day is: Where are the 2.0 classes?
I am optimistic that libraries are busy writing up lesson plans and planning to launch new classes soon. Many libraries that integrate blogs, wikis, RSS and flickr as part of their services and web sites have not yet made the important leap to educating their customers about these technologies in the same way that we taught them about OPACs when we ditched our card catalogs and about email and the Web when we started offering Internet access. Perhaps they plan to do this in the near future?
I sincerely hope that the replies to this post will indicate that there are many, many more libraries out there teaching courses on blogging, flickr, RSS and other new technologies than I am currently finding on my informal and somewhat happenstance survey method. Nothing would make me happier than to get a flood of replies to this post that proves me wrong — that 2.0 technologies are being taught.
It seems to me that a lot of the smaller libraries are moving forward with offering 2.0 classes before their larger counterparts. Princeton Public Library (aka MPOW) is currently teaching four 2.o courses — Become a Blogger, Fun with Flickr, What’s the Fuss about RSS, and Fantastic Freebies (which is a round-up of 2.0 sites) — as well as courses such as Digital Camera Test Drive, Downloading eAudiobooks and Sharing Photos Online. We will soon offer a course on bloglines and one on tagging/folksonomy. Here is a quick sampling of some other libraries that I found who are teaching 2.o:
Johnson County Public Library has a course called Cyber Six-Pack: Six Online Gadgets That Are Fun, Free and Easy to Use that is similar to the Fantastic Freebies we teach here at PPL.
Darien Public Library is currently offering classes on podcasting and blogging this fall and has a good selection of courses for advanced users (a good example of a library taking their training beyond the basics).
I know that in the past Reading Public Library has tried do some classes on flickr (but according to the cached copy I found using Google it had to be cancelled) and I see that Skokie Public Library has also offered at least one flickr class.
This post has been several weeks in the making (I just never got around to finishing it) and in the mean time I did notice that this was a topic at Internet Librarian 2006 in a session called Technology Training in a Library 2.0 World (a good summary can be found at Library Web Chic), so I know I am not the only thinking about this and how we can encourage others to jump on the “Teaching 2.o Bandwagon”. Let me know what you are doing or hope to do soon, I love learning about what others are up to with their technology training.