Case Study of a Community Partnership: Connecticut State Library
Organization: Connecticut State Library
Contacts: Tom Newman, Sharon Brettschneider
Background of the organization
WebJunction Connecticut is a service of the Division of Library Development (DLD), Connecticut State Library.
Our Mission Statement: “The Division of Library Development provides leadership, funding, education, and statewide services that enhance a local library’s ability to deliver high quality library service to its community.”
The Division has about 20 staff members total.
Connecticut has close to 200 public libraries with more than 2,000 staff members, but we also serve school and academic libraries.
All professional staff at the Division contribute to WebJunction Connecticut. These staff are most involved in the project so far:
• Sharon Brettschneider, Director of the Division. Overall responsibility for the project.
• Tom Newman, Library Data Coordinator. Editor & System Admin.
• Kris Abery, Continuing Education Coordinator
• Linda Williams, Children’s Librarian
We realized that we were not providing all the professional development assistance Connecticut library staff were in need of. For example, the Division did not have the resources or the skills to provide all the technology training we would have liked. Basically, we were providing classroom training, but the topics we were able to cover were not comprehensive. We felt there were obvious gaps in continuing education opportunities for Connecticut’s library staff.
At the same time we had reached a critical moment in the Division’s web presence. The State Library did not have all the resources and staff available for us to provide more than the most basic information for library staff on the State Library’s website. This website, designed to meet the needs of the general population, wasn’t flexible enough for the Division to meet the needs of the library community in Connecticut. WebJunction came along just at the time we were looking to expand our use of the web.
The WebJunction Community Partnership offered a solution to these dilemmas. First, WebJunction’s online courses and web content on various technology subjects helped provide education and information to Connecticut librarians on topics the Division had never covered before. The online courses complemented our current classroom workshops and allowed busy librarians to take self-paced courses at convenient times. The content provided on the site by knowledgeable library professionals helped provide answers to questions that our Division had never been able to answer before. So when libraries came to us for information on how to secure public access computers, for instance, we had a great place to go to find answers.
What made this new web resource even more compelling to us was the opportunity to add our own content to the resource and make it appear alongside the general WebJunction content. Our Connecticut-specific information about grants, for instance, could appear alongside articles from WebJunction on grant-writing. And articles we were writing on general library topics could be shared with the general WebJunction community and other Community Partners. This one-stop shopping and share-and-share-alike model appealed to us very much. It provided Connecticut library staff with the opportunity to be part of a larger community of librarians and still get the information they needed specific to Connecticut.
Besides this sharing model, WebJunction gave the Division new ways to reach Connecticut librarians via the web. For the first time, Division staff could get our messages and information out to the Connecticut community in a timely and efficient manner. A good example of this is the very popular policy samples we were able to put up on the site immediately after becoming a Community Partner. Another good example is the potential offered by the new WebJunction makeover where we look forward to taking advantage of some of the additional collaborative Web 2.0 features. And all this new web capability came without hiring technical staff. WebJunction takes care of all of the technical aspects of WebJunction and have always been there to assist Division staff with the use of WebJunction resources.
WebJunction Connecticut has improved how Division staff get their message out, how they communicate with library staff, and how they provide critical professional development services. New content and news from the Division immediately goes up on the site.
Connecticut librarians have been using WebJunction Connecticut to find courses, to answer specific Connecticut questions, and to answer general professional development questions.
WebJunction Connecticut has more than 1,000 members. These members have signed up for 1,300 online courses. WebJunction Connecticut content items regularly receive more than 40,000 hits per month. BlogJunction Connecticut gets about 100 unique visitors per month.
From these statistics, and from the feedback we receive regularly, we know that WebJunction Connecticut is helping us to fulfill the Division’s mission. Not only is the Division getting its message out better than it ever has before, but we know Connecticut library staff are taking advantage of the many ways WebJunction helps them improve how they serve library users.
A sharing, collaborative venture such as WebJunction provides many services and resources that our Division could never provide on its own. And from the results we have noticed so far, we feel WebJunction is a real benefit to existing library staff in Connecticut. But our concern isn’t just with today’s library staff, but tomorrow’s as well. Young library staff will expect to use Internet resources to be a part of a larger library community where they can find answers, share what they learn, and collaborate with others. Without our participation in WebJunction’s Community Partner program, we don’t see how our Division could ever meet this expectation.
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