Saturday, February 25, 2012

OWL (Online With Libraries) Preconference Learning

The State Library has an $8.3 million grant to support all of Alaska's 100 public libraries in getting 1) broadband speed of at least 1.5 Mps, 2) new hardware and software, 3) a videoconferencing network and scheduling services, 4) training in use of equipment and 5) library aides to support the new services/equipment. Furthermore, OWL assists libraries in applying for erate discounts for telecommunication services. The OWL preconference provided primarily technical training for computer and videoconferencing hookup, maintenance, troubleshooting and use, including content ideas for videoconferencing. The day began with an introductory session on broadband and what it means/does. then followed several hours with tech training given by Steve Shields. Steve is a gifted teacher. ; he took people gracefully from a place of less knowledge to a place of knowing more. By mid-afternoon, despite post-lunch slump, attendees were still perky and happy to be learning new things, greeting his revelations with cries of pleasure and understanding -- yes, really! The day concluded with a field trip to the Noel Wein Library where we were given a videoconference use demo and a videoconference that included samples from content providers. We learned what educational sessions can be offered nationwide. We had 3 demonstrations: a Minnesota wolf education center, the Seward Sea Life Center, and a Lewis & Clark Museum/Visitor Center in Oregon. and there are 100s more. We learned as OWL providers too: 1) We need to provide a way to push out to all libraries whatever content is being offered so that others can dial in and share. 2) We need to provide document cameras so that locations can share photos, books, or other paper. 3) We need to find a way for libraries to team up and share expenses for buying content. 4) Libraries also need help with developing videoconferencing policies that follow OWL requirements and yet reflect their local needs.

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