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ILEAD U (Illinois Libraries Explore, Apply and Discover), the 21st Century Technology Tool Institute for Illinois Library Staff

Illinois State Library
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Innovation Leader: Anne Craig, Illinois State Library Director, acraig@ilsos.net

Problem Statement

Librarians must expand their leadership abilities by using participatory technology tools to address the needs of their patrons and foster greater community involvement and civic engagement. Examples of participatory technology tools might include digital audio/podcasting, digital photography and video, blogging tools, instant messaging, photosharing (e.g., Flikr), RSS, social networking (e.g., Facebook), videoconferencing, virtual reference, virtual worlds (e.g., Second Life), web conferencing and Wikis. The entire library community may benefit if the successful application of these tools results in the development of an easy-to-replicate program.

Innovation

The Illinois State Library applied for and received a three-year Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to develop ILEAD U as a national model for participatory technology training. Eight five-member teams representing multitype libraries across Illinois take part in three, three-day in-person seminars over a period of nine months. Teams are assigned mentors who keep participants motivated; offer expertise; and provide guidance and advice. Teams identify a single group project of the team’s design that will address at least one identified need within their communities of users. Teams use the skills and training acquired throughout the sessions to develop, implement, manage and evaluate the projects.

Progress

The first group of 8 teams who participated in 2010 are using Web 2.0 technology to address issues such as unemployment and job searching in central and southern Illinois; addressing the informational needs of law students in Chicago; providing outreach to people whose second language is English in the Chicago collar counties; and addressing economic development along the I-80 corridor from Rockford to Joliet. The second group of 8 teams is currently engaged in ILEAD U. Like the first group, the teams represent all geographic areas of Illinois and all types of libraries, and they are learning to use participatory technology to address issues such as developing job searching skills; providing quality library programming; fostering digital literacy; establishing an online platform to promote local history; and providing government information. In addition, 12 individuals from state libraries around the nation are participating as observers with the intent of importing ILEAD U to their states. States participating in 2011 are Iowa, South Carolina, Montana, Utah, Colorado, Georgia, Arkansas, New Jersey, Indiana, Michigan, Tennessee and Ohio.