The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and OCLC launched WebJunction in 2003 to amplify the value of libraries in the communities they serve.
This month, OCLC's WebJunction celebrates 10 years as an online learning community for library staff.
On May 12, 2003, a celebration at the U.S. Library of Congress marked the launch of WebJunction.org, a new online community dedicated to sharing the knowledge and resources necessary for libraries to successfully provide public access to information.
Today, 10 years later, WebJunction has grown and sustained a virtual gathering place where library staff build skills and find support in responding to the changing learning needs of the profession. More than 80,000 library workers from across the United States and beyond — including 8,740 new users in 2012 — have used WebJunction's training content, live programs, articles and stories to gain the knowledge, tools and support that are needed to power vital libraries.
To commemorate 10 years of learning, the WebJunction team invites the library community to share in its celebration in a number of ways, including:
- Create a "WebJunction inspires me…" video for the WebJunction video channel on YouTube
- Post to WebJunction's LinkedIn Group, Facebook page, Google+ page or Pinterest board
- Post a comment to Twitter with the tag #WJ10th to @WebJunction
- Tag your special WebJunction photos on Flickr with #WJ10th
- Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit WebJunction.org for more about the 10th anniversary events.
Built with grant funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, WebJunction has continually evolved its programs, content and systems over the years to provide public libraries—especially small and rural libraries—with resources and skills to transform lives and strengthen communities.
"We work with partners all over the world to support public libraries, strengthen the overall library environment, contribute knowledge and leadership, and advocate for public libraries," said Deborah Jacobs, director of the Global Libraries initiative at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "Our goal with WebJunction has been to make sure library staff have the training they need to provide excellent library services to their communities."
"Over these 10 years we have seen how offering a gathering place for library staff to learn new skills and share their experiences and expertise through the WebJunction.org online community can help us accomplish this goal and make a powerful difference in the effectiveness of a library," said Ms. Jacobs.
"We are grateful to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for its continued partnership and support, and to the growing community of WebJunction participants for making it an indispensable resource for public libraries and their users," said Cathy De Rosa, OCLC vice president for the Americas and global vice president of marketing.
John D. "Danny" Hales, Jr., retired director of Suwannee River Regional Library, said that WebJunction.org has been the central resource for the library's staff training, research and development. It provides the foundation for core competency development for both entry-level and senior staff.
"To me, there has been nothing as impactful to libraries and their service to the public as the emergence of WebJunction for staff training and support to small and rural libraries during this time of rapid technological change," said Mr. Hales. "Without it and the Gates Foundation's Computers in Library Initiative, I shudder to think of the fate of the vast majority of community libraries. In my opinion, the Gates Initiative and 10 years of WebJunction have had an impact equal to the Carnegie initiative."
Among WebJunction's leading-edge programs:
- Online learning. WebJunction published Trends in E-Learning in 2006 and the Blended Learning Guide in 2007. WebJunction was a pioneer in using live online presentations to reach hundreds of librarians at a time, expanding to include multiday online conferences that are free and open to all. In 2009, WebJunction published the comprehensive Competencies Index for the Library Field, a compilation of the knowledge, skills and attitudes that are necessary for various library staff roles.
- Online training. Since 2005, WebJunction has managed a number of national training programs that focus on critical issues in U.S. communities. In partnership with funders, such as the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, these programs have included:
- Training libraries on outreach to Spanish-language speakers
- Sustaining rural and small libraries
- Supporting the needs of job seekers and the unemployed in the wake of the 2008 economic crisis.
These three programs delivered training to 13,000 library staff across the nation. Current WebJunction programs are addressing how communities can support individuals who do not have access or skills to use computers or the Internet.
- Online partnering. In 2004, the WebJunction Partner Program was designed to allow state libraries to host localized training and resources on WebJunction.org. Initial partners included the state libraries of Colorado, Connecticut, Iowa, New Mexico and Washington. Since then, 22 additional states have participated in the Partner Program. State libraries have been instrumental in their collaboration with WebJunction to deliver relevant and affordable continuing education to library staff in every role, from volunteer to director.
"The accomplishments of the past 10 years are truly a testament to the power of community and partnership," said Sharon Streams, program manager for WebJunction. "As we observe this anniversary, I would like to recognize and thank the thousands of library professionals who are providing impactful services to their communities and are willing to share their success stories with the WebJunction community. Working together, we will continue to meet the learning needs of library staff so that they are empowered to drive innovation and transformation in their communities."