In February 2016 Barbara Alvarez taught a great new course for Infopeople called “Using Technology for Community Engagement.” Participants learned to use readily accessible equipment (such as a smart phone and free or low-cost software) to facilitate the sharing of community stories. Alvarez taught learners to record and upload videos, create podcasts, and virtually broadcast community conversations and events.
As the course wrapped up, learners created action plans in which they outlined their intentions for using technology to engage their communities. They were enthusiastic about what they had learned and about what they were going to be able to do, “I learned so many things that I could now apply to my job. This course was full of practical ideas and tips on how to get started” and “This has to be one of the most inspiring courses that I’ve taken in a long time. I love technology and social media, so everything in this course: the podcasting, the video production and the broadcasting has set my creativity in motion. There are endless possibilities for Community Engagement.”
A few months after the course ended, we checked in with learners to see what they had done. Here are a few of the responses we received:
- Videos – Jane Dobija, Senior Librarian with the Los Angeles Public Library’s Woodland Hills Branch Library feels “so much more confident” about her awareness of technology’s potential for libraries and community engagement. She’s created a great little video on her tablet about the library’s balcony garden project.
- Podcasts – Wanangwa Dever, Technical Services Librarian with the Polk County Public Library in Columbus, NC, said that the biggest way the course was helpful for her was with podcasting. She shared information from the class with her co-workers, including programming assistant Amelia Derr, who was just getting ready to start podcasting with teens at their programs. Wanangwa connected Amelia with a classmate who had already done some podcasting with the teens at her library. Here’s a Google Hangouts on Air that Wanangwa and Amelia created to introduce the library’s Teen Scene and here’s a podcast featuring teen book reviews, too.
- Videos – Katrina E. Laws, Web Librarian at Solano County Library (CA) has created several things since the course. In March, the library celebrated Women’s History Month by honoring women in the community and Katrina created videos featuring local women, shared on Facebook and on Twitter. She created a video to promote feminist books in the library’s collection, too!
- Podcasts – Pamela Hoppock, Youth Services Consultant at the South Carolina State Library and her coworker are getting ready to start producing two short podcasts every month. They will kick off the series with a podcast talking about summer reading and StoryfestSC (the statewide kick off to summer reading). Hoppock says, “…our purpose is really three-fold: promote our own services and resources and those of other libraries, educate our listeners—library staff and the non-library staff, and hopefully entertain along the way. We are planning on using social media as the primary way to market our new podcast series.”
- Social Media – Since taking the online class, Tamara Evans, Digital Services Librarian at the Kings County Library – Hanford Branch (CA), has used social media in order to engage with the community and publicize library events. They recently debuted a Veteran Resource Center and had a successful turnout via people sharing the event from the library’s Facebook page.
- Podcasts & Live Events & Videos – Crystal Miller, Circulation Manager at the Coeur d’Alene Public Library ID)) says they have added podcasts the library’s long range plan and are also looking into possibly recording more library events and airing them on the local government channel. They are also trying to reinvigorate a Story Catcher program, which collects videos of local oral stories.
Thank you to Barbara for teaching this course and thank you to these learners for sharing the stories of how the course impacted their ability to engage their communities using technology.
(Missed the February course? Good news – it will be offered again in November!)