IL 2010: Beyond 23 Things

presenters: Louise Alcorn, Christa Burns, and Jennifer Koerber

The 23 Things program was designed to introduce library staff to explore and discover new and emerging technologies. Many libraries have taken it and adapted it to their own organizational needs, and some are starting to experiment with doing it with users as well.

Alcorn’s first attempt at doing this was a bit of a failure, in part because her incentives weren’t strong enough, and in part because there wasn’t enough buy-in to self-motivate the participants. Nudging became nagging, which didn’t help.

NWILSA’s 13 Things is done with different instructors online. The participants were given “homework” assignments to keep everything in check. The instructors had dress rehearsals to make sure the tech worked, and it was all through the same Adobe Connect room. The participants were also given a Google Site to keep all the info together, and chat pods to discuss the side conversations that sprouted.

But, there were problems. There needed to be ongoing marketing (not nagging) that promotes each presentation/session. The participants were reluctant to get a headset with a microphone rather than just participating in the text chat. Also, due to staff constraints, they weren’t able to effectively turn the feedback into new programming.

When Nebraska Learns 2.0 ended, many of the participants commented that they were sad to see it end and wanted to do more. So, the organizers looked around to find a way to maintain it as an ongoing project.

However, they noticed that participation and new joiners dropped over time. The problem was, they promoted it initially, but didn’t continue the promotion beyond that until recently. Now, every month, at least one new participant joins and a thing gets done.

Koerber wants to bring the 23 things to the users wherever they are (home, work, library, etc.). The scalability is challenging, particularly for incentives and interaction. It can get a bit unwieldy. The program itself needs to be open-ended and self-driven.

One possible model has WordPress at its core and uses social networks (virtual and physical) to connect the participants. Promotion can be done through bookmarks, flyers, Craigslist, etc. Rather than everyone winning something, participants could be entered into monthly raffles for prizes.