Looking Back: WebJunction Turns Five
WebJunction: Celebrating Five Years with our Community
On May 12, 2003, the WebJunction community launched with a celebration at the Library of Congress. During the last five years you've grown to over 30,000 registered members, shared 20,000 pieces of content, and collaborated in 30,000 discussions.
It goes without saying that you have played a critical role in building this successful online community for library staff. We thank you for your great work sustaining libraries and for your participation by showing off five years of WebJunction. We look forward to your continued involvement in the exciting times ahead.
|WebJunction before it was WebJunction|
WebJunction: The Early Years
2002: Initial grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to build a public access computing portal. Its purpose: "To build a self-sustaining community sharing the knowledge and resources necessary to successfully provide public access to information." Thank goodness the original name WebNoggin didn't stick—we probably would have been the butt of numerous, though short-lived, dot.com jokes, then slowly faded into oblivion!
May 2003: Launch of WebJunction at the Great Hall of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Just as in May this year, the event coincided with National Library Legislative Day, meaning D.C. was packed with library decision makers. More than 250 early WebJunction fans watched a site demonstration and short program, then got down to business celebrating the new site with a grand party.
2004: The first birthday celebration marked more than 7,000 registered members in all 50 US states, all 13 Canadian provinces and territories, and more than 40 other countries with more than 183,000 visits to the site. Seven hundred articles, handouts, lessons, worksheets, and other content items from 30 contributors had been posted to the site.
In June of 2004 we launched WebJunction's Community Partner Program enabling state libraries to create customized versions of WebJunction with specialized content for their library staff. Partners for this first phase of the program included Colorado, Connecticut, Iowa, New Mexico, and Washington.
2005: Launch of Rural Sustainability and Spanish Language Outreach Programs
|WJ 2003 early wireframe|
Rural Sustainability Program
As recalled by Rural Program Coordinator Jim Malzewski: As WebJunction turned two, we were commencing our work on The Rural Library Sustainability Project, made possible by a grant from The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Our first step during the spring of 2005 was to line up state libraries to collaborate with us on the program.
Fast forward three years and we are happy to report that 42 states have joined us in delivering a one-day workshop to over 6,000 rural and small library staff. Hundreds of success stories continue to be told with their origins being the sustainability workshop and the action plan generated in the workshop. From Anchorage to Tallahassee, and from finding funding for wireless networks to reaching out to seniors, the stories of rural libraries striving to remain the hub of their community and serve their citizens continue to inspire. The work of the project has grown a rich collection of resources and community for Services to Rural & Small Libraries in continued partnership with the Association for Rural & Small Libraries (ARSL).
Jim's Five Favorite Moments in Rural Program History
- September, 2005: The Rural Library Sustainability Project officially launches with our first 8 state partners and our first Trainer Institute. 34 additional states would join us over the next two years.
- June, 2007: The state of Louisiana delivers the final official workshop of the Rural Library Sustainability Project. In less than 2 years, 42 states delivered over 300 regional workshops to over 6,000 small and rural library staff. Hundreds of folks to this day continue to use the workshop materials at their own pace through our free Rural Library Sustainability Online Course.
- Forum for Rural Libraries at ALA (2006, 2007): Over 200 library leaders from small communities around the country join us for two milestone events in New Orleans and Washington, D.C.
- September, 2007: WebJunction and the Association for Rural & Small Libraries (ARSL) announce partnership that guarantees both organizations will continue to focus on the needs of rural libraries and provide resources to assist them.
- May, 2008: ARSL sponsors the 20th webinar in our Rural In Focus series. The 2008 Best Small Library in America—Chelsea District Library—was our featured guest.
|WJ at launch, 2003|
Spanish Language Outreach Program
As recalled by Project Coordinator, Laura Staley: The Spanish Language Outreach Program kicked off a pilot of the program back in 2004 when WebJunction had just turned one. Community Partners were a new thing, we could count the program staff here in Seattle on one hand, and I had never even heard the term "Community of Practice." Fast forward (and it really did seem like things were happening in fast forward) a few years and WJ and the SLO program have helped establish a thriving online community of practice to increase library staff members’ knowledge and skills to reach out more effectively to Spanish speakers in their local communities. Happy Birthday, WebJunction!
Laura's Favorite Five Outreach Activities implemented by SLO Workshop Participants
- Staten Island, NY: Family-friendly, basic computer skills class for Spanish speakers paired with childcare and a culminating fiesta!
- Greenport, NY: Spanish/English Dictionaries with a gift from the Greenport library label provided to patrons and local first responders and social service agencies
- Minnesota: Facilitated Parenting Group for Spanish-speaking mothers
- Deschutes, OR: Spanish Podcast with directions for obtaining a library card
- Siga Adelante (Moving Forward) Program in Oklahoma: Health Fair for Spanish-speaking communities at 4 libraries across the state
Laura's Five Most Memorable SLO Moments
- Getting stuck in the elevator on the way to present at PLA 2006.
- Receiving word from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in August 2005 that the SLO project had been re-funded and would roll out to an additional 36 states across the country over 3 years!
- Pulling off the first Train-the-Trainer Institute for 20 trainers from 4 states (six weeks after being hired).
- Countless "aha moments" I had the privilege to witness at workshops delivered all over the country.
- 10/12/06—WJ Evaluation Analyst, Janet Salm and I were looking for data about Latino perceptions of libraries that would help us demonstrate the impact of the SLO program. When we couldn't find what we were looking for, Janet had this crazy idea that we should do the research ourselves! WJ's research report on Latino Perceptions of Public Libraries is due out this September.
It wouldn't be a true celebration without recognizing the great work being done by libraries who have used TechAtlas since 2005. TechAtlas for Libraries is free software that allows libraries to work through the technology planning process and to manage their technology inventory. Over the past several years, the TechAtlas team has worked with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on several of their US Library grant programs and we are excited to be continuing that work. We will also be looking at how we can work with libraries to improve the technology planning process, especially for those that apply for E-rate funding. The future looks bright at TechAtlas and WebJunction!
Tech Atlas Five Highlights
- 18,754 accounts have been created in TechAtlas.
- Over 113,000 computers have been inventoried using the TechAtlas inventory tools.
- More than 7,500 peripherals, like printers, have been added to library inventories.
- Libraries have completed more than 6,000 assessments to help with their technology planning needs.
- Staff skill surveys have been completed by more than 3,200 people.
WebJunction by the Numbers
The past five years have seen tremendous growth in membership and participation. We launched in May 2003 and more than 7,000 of you stopped by during the month. Those of you joining WebJunction have increased from a cozy 700 members after our first month to a truly impressive community of more than 30,000. On average the number of people visiting WebJunction has increased by 51 percent each year: the number of visitors grew to more than 30,000 in May 2006 and we should see more than 46,000 people coming to the webjunction.org website during May 2008. When you look at the whole picture of WebJunction.org AND affiliated Community Partner sites you see even more astonishing growth—last month, more than 90,000 people visited WebJunction and our WebJunction Partner sites.
Memories of the WebJunction Community
Obviously, we wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for your continued involvement on the site and throughout the projects. Here are just a few places to see the faces and stories behind the many names represented in the work of WebJunction: Meet your Moderators includes many of the fine folks who work to facilitate the discussion boards. The Spanish Language Outreach Trainer Spotlights and the WebJunction Member Spotlights demonstrate the rich commitment to libraries and to the work of building staff capacity.
Over these 5 years, numerous Library Spotlights have been published to highlight libraries that have made innovative and creative use of WebJunction's resources to solve problems, to share, collaborate, and make their work or services the best that they can be.
I'm Curious George produced 53 columns in answering questions from libraryland. A sampling of titles from the archives includes: Forget the OPAC: Why Does Library Management Suck? (Dec 2006), Kitten on the Keys (April 2004), Cows on Prozac: Keeping Calm about Content Management (July 2004), and Seven Library Dwarves (January 2005).
The WebJunction's Flickr stream is literally packed with great snapshots from countless conferences, training events and spotlights. You might even find some photos of yourself in there!
But of course, this wouldn't be the WebJunction community if we didn't invite your participation. We're hoping you'll contribute your WebJunction birthday memories to a community discussion—but with a twist: because WJ is turning five, we thought it would be fun to encourage memory sharing around a theme or meme of "fives." Perhaps you'll submit your five favorite WJ courses, five favorite WJ events, or even your five favorite bits of conference swag. Whatever your memory, whatever your five, we hope you'll help celebrate by sharing them with the WJ Community!
WebJunction is Looking Ahead
In response to your continued engagement and feedback, we will be rolling out a series of enhanced and flexible features to significantly improve your WebJunction experience looking forward. You have played a critical role in building this successful online community for library staff, and we thank you for your great work sustaining libraries and for your participation. We have extended a fresh 'Call to Action' inviting you stay super engaged with WebJunction as Advocates. Visit the discussion and find out more about our Advocates and to see what's on the horizon. We look forward to your continued involvement in the exciting times ahead!