Friday, November 30, 2007

My Harford County Public Library Liaison Experience

This is Maurice Coleman from Harford County Public Library and I was one of three people who worked with HCPL staff on our Learning 2.0 project. The timing of the project could not have been better since were planning and did have a two day system-wide Technology Fair and used that forum to launch the Learning 2.0 project for our system.

Throughout the summer and fall, we had out of 407 staff, 258 signing up and 151 completed the program to date. We have some staff that are still working on the project and I just received an email from a staff member who is getting a group together at their branch to go through the 23 things.

Some of my observations about the project:

HCPL staff loved incentives. Self-explanatory but very,very important. We had incentive prizes for completion and three prizes from a drawing of completers. This raised the stakes for staff and provided a competition of sorts and provided another reason to try/complete the project.

Email's worked. Having both the state email and our internal emails to gently encourage/nudge staff worked well. Some staff during the middle where there seemed to be a slowdown were picked up by the emails.

Support is good. HCPL staff got support not just from all three of the co-leaders but also from other staff that embraced training and mentoring others through the project. Some departments took on the Learning project as a Team Learning objective.

Support from administration is good too. HCPL's Senior Staff encouraged participation in a very real way by saying that all staff could take one hour during their work week to do the program. This upper management seal of approval was vital to the success of the program.

Even with that support, some staff felt they did not have enough time at work to work on the Learning 2.0 project. They then either did not finish, finished very slowly or did the exercises at home on their time.

Too much information. The individual "thing" descriptions need to be streamlined. Some staff felt that the had to do every single thing on each page before saying they were done with the thing. That bogged staff down during some of the exercises. The exercises need to be streamlined and some of the resources reevaluated.

Keeping the knowledge and learning going. As a system we are continuing to spread the knowledge by still encouraging folks to participate in the entire program and folding several of the "things" into our corporate body of knowledge that we expect each staff member from pages to administrators to have a passing awareness of its existence.

Self direction is not everyone's direction. We learned that not everyone was ok with the self-directed nature of the project. We tried to accommodate those folks by offering open workshops where a trainer would work with the person on their impasse in the program. We also offered one-on-one assistance to staff which worked for some. My sense is that some of our staff were put off by having to do the project by themselves and wanted much more hand holding with each of the discovery exercises.

Staff Fertilizer. The program as inspired our staff to use tools from the Learning 2.0 project to work better, smarter, faster and together. We have branch and project wikis, shared tags for all of our branch's reference desks, staff blogs, and our 2008 Summer Reading Program Team is using a wiki to cut down on paper used throughout their year.

Thank God for RSS or You Know, there were a lot of blogs...We have 180 plus blogs that were looked at least once by myself and by my fellow liaisons. What made monitoring them easier was using RSS feeds to create public pages where all of the new posts by all of our bloggers could be seen. Saved 2000 lbs. of time.

Those are some of my observations about the program. If you would like any more information, feel free to contact me via my blog. Thank you for your time.

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