Getting Netted reaches out of seminar rooms

The Getting Netted! project developing and supporting social library work organised 17 trainings in 12 different locations during spring 2012. The majority of the events were workshops, designed for small groups. The contents of most of the seminars could however be extended outside the seminar rooms and auditoriums, both in time and space, by using social media, network solutions and cooperation.

“A great day: both concrete and emotional”

A series of nine workshops concentrating on small group and presentation skills gathered together 141 library professionals. The days were summarized in real-time in the project blog, Facebook and Twitter by the project manager. Writing down first impressions and main points of the discussions was useful from the point of view of the project, as a form of documentation for later use, but also as a glimpse into the themes for professionals outside the project.

“Fantastic that you offered the choice of online participation”

A seminar on copyright in the online world was organised in Seinäjoki with most of the participants following the presentations at their own desks as the whole day was broadcast live using Adobe Connect. The participants were tweeting away while listening to the speakers and the chat function was being actively used. The questions asked were shared with the presenters and the audience. Again, the contents of the seminar were brought to many more than the 73 participants sitting in the auditorium or the 80 online followers by making use of social media.

In another format, the facilitator of a two-hour webinar, the two speakers and the staff of the AKTIIVI project taking care of the technicalities all sat at their own desks in different parts of the country. Around 40 professionals followed the webinar online. Also the iLinc tool lets participants send in questions and comments for all to see or chat with each other privately. The recording and the presentations are still available on the web.

One of the seminars was streamed live in cooperation with the Finnish online library television, Kirjastokaista. The project manager again acted as a self-appointed Twitter host, posting mes-sages, re-tweeting other people’s comments, making some of them available on Facebook, and writing short blog posts.

“Much more fun online than having to travel and stay overnight, thanks!”

In a relatively large but sparsely populated country such as Finland online training and the use of social media make sense. The number of small library units with one or two workers means that not everybody has the opportunity to travel to a seminar, let alone stay overnight.

Streaming is becoming more and more common – and easier with the new tools. If the speakers agree, saving the video clips on the web is a plus. Many of the conference tools also offer a chat function which makes interaction between online and on-site participants possible. This requires an online chair or facilitator, somebody following the stream during the day and taking up any comments and questions.

It is a good idea to also appoint a separate chair for Twitter. Someone needs to summarize the topics and make sure that any questions are answered. A hashtag, a combination of characters binding together the tweets from a particular seminar, was published in every seminar announcement. Use of hashtags made it easy to see what other people were saying about the contents of the day.

While blog posts, Twitter messages and Facebook statuses are personal expressions and interpretations of the events – sometimes twice or more removed as people comment on things they have no first-hand knowledge of – social media can be a valuable asset inspiring discussions, creating connections between professionals, spreading ideas and informing of new developments.

The training was arranged by Getting Netted, a ESF funded project which aims at building networks and collaborations helping libraries reach new user groups and activate and guide the users in developing their network skills. The Getting Netted! project is administered by the Cultural Unit at the Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences. The partners are the public libraries of Turku, Vaasa, Jakobstad, Porvoo and Ylöjärvi.

The sub-headings are quotes from the feedback from participants.

Freelance Library Specialist