Webinars: Creating, Listening Watching

Over the past two weeks our 643 class structure shifted a bit. We split up into small groups to work on webinars, and then viewed other groups’ webinar sessions. We didn’t meet as an entire class so that we could use that time for both preparing our own sessions as well as attending our classmates’ sessions.

Although I have been on my share of webinars (as an attendee), live demos and Skype calls, putting together our own webinar to present felt like something new, a bit of uncharted territory. Still, it was a fun experiment.

I learned that since I lose my voice during peak allergy season, I probably shouldn’t sign myself up for much public speaking (online or off) in April! I learned some of the quirks of Elluminate, and I feel like having a live webinar was a good way to learn by doing — there were things with audio and interactivity that we hadn’t anticipated (nothing major, just a few little bumps). I think that our own webinar went OK, but based on my own gut feelings as well as the post-session participant survey, I feel like if I were to do it again, I would tweak a few things.

First of all, I got some great ideas from the other webinars on how to incorporate more interactivity with participants.   Using the whiteboard (despite its error/warning messages and lag) would be something I would definitely do next go-round. Secondly, I think that with three moderators switching, it would be wise to make sure that everyone has not only earphones, but a mic attached to those earphones.

Yet again, much like with the one-shot workshop assignment, I was really pleasantly surprised by the topics that my classmates chose. There are a few webinars that I wasn’t able to attend live, but I still am intrigued enough by the topics that I will probably watch some of the recorded versions.

Some of the topics covered:

  • English Language Learning
  • Serving ex-prisoner populations
  • Copyright and open access
  • Assistive tech and considerations for patrons with either learning or physical disabilities
  • The library as incubator
  • Using census data to find (and serve) specific segments of the population your library might be missing

There were a lot of excellent topics, and people had great delivery too. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I did really especially enjoy the “using census data…” webinar. The presentation was crisp, clear and easy to understand, and I’m positive I’ll go back to re-watch the recorded version whenever I need a refresh on census data and how to map  out specific demographics.

Our own webinar focused on “young professionals” as a population often underserved by public libraries. Several of the case studies I presented stressed the point that unless libraries are paying attention to research about the potential patrons in their area, they may be far off in their assumptions of who makes up community.

In one specific case, a library in Nevada believed that the folks living in their service area were largely retirees and young families. However, once the library began doing market research is became clear there were many, many young professionals without children, and that the library could be doing a much better job articulating its value to there potential patrons.

It was heartening to see a library respond in such a robust way once they realized a potential gap in their service. It was even more encouraging to see that they had a positive response from the community. An additional benefit of their efforts (perhaps initially unintended) was reaching out also boosted the library’s reputation as an organization willing to take risks and try new things. As I’ve been considering my post-SI path, I know that I am particularly drawn to organizations that are willing to take calculated risks and experiment a bit with programs and outreach.


2 thoughts on “Webinars: Creating, Listening Watching

  1. I really enjoyed the topic of your webinar – I never would have thought of myself or my peers as an “underserved population” but once I thought about it, it certainly is true when it comes to public libraries. I wonder if we will see a bigger shift (rather than just the exceptional libraries you highlighted) as more and more younger librarians enter the work force.

    I tried to get my group (Copyright and Open Access) to include as much interactivity as we could throughout the webinar, but it was tough to feel like we weren’t stretching and/or pandering. I feel like Elluminate offers tools that do one or two things well, but cannot be stretched to accommodate more innovative interaction. However, that could be my lack of knowledge about Elluminate, too!

  2. Thank you for bringing up the “creating” element of webinar–it gives me the feeling that each webinar is a tangible product that we have carefully crafted. I feel the “creating” part of the webinar is most fun. We spent hours collecting, organizing and presenting information to create this product and I bet everyone is proud of it.

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