Kudos & Kongrats, Kats!

I just checked my watch, and it looks like it’s time for me to throw some heaping praise at MPOW’s sister library system, the Johnson County Public Library.

First, there’s the smooth and sweet Literary Map of Kansas City. It looks good, it’s interactive, and it’s educational. And it’s just darned nifty! Good work, JoCo!

I also have to praise them for the release of the latest issue of elementia, their teen zine. One of my loyal minions, who also works in the YA department at Johnson County, has done a bang-up job of starting this terrific project. I know she’s really proud of it. As well she should be. Great job, Angel!

Sunflowers in the Shade

One of the downsides of living in Kansas is the bad press the state usually gets. People associate Kansas with Intelligent Design and Fred Phelps more often than with, say, Kathleen Sebelius.

So, just to further dispel the image that Kansas is a state of backwards, closed-minded fundementalists, I present a blog post by the State Librarian of Kansas on censorship that makes me proud to be a librarian and a Kansan.

Mr. Chips, In Retrospect

Let’s roll that footage and go back over the plays I made. Let’s see how this “Introduction to the Internet” class went, what was successful and what wasn’t. And then, if we have time, let’s go for a slice of pie and a cup of coffee. We’ll start with the beginning and the end. The middle will unfold on its own.

I started the class about 10 minutes late, just to make sure I gave everyone enough time to get in, and finished about 10 minutes late, so it really evened out into a full 90 minutes. I began the class with 5 out of 6 students in attendance. For one of my library’s programs, that’s a good showing. (The sixth student called today, apologized for missing the class, and asked if we had another class on the schedule.) I ended the class with all of the students–all older men and women–saying they learned a lot and they would definitely be interested in more computer classes. So, any way you look at it, the class was a success.

The middle? Hmmmm…

I had much too much to cover in just one class. Did I give a quick overview of how the Internet works? Check. Did I explain how the World Wide Web works? Check. Did I show them how to use a web browser? Well, I showed them the most basic stuff, but didn’t have time to show them things like bookmarks and changing your home page, which is a shame. Did I give them the pros and cons of both IE and Firefox? You betcha. Did I still manage to get them interested in using Firefox instead of IE? I don’t know how I did it, but I did. (Behold, the power of Firefox!) Did I show them how to use search engines? I gave them the basics, but there was so much more I wanted to cover. Did I explain e-mail. Yes, but again, only at its most basic (as in “This is what e-mail is. Next!”). Did I get them hep to IM? I got them intrigued (so much for the “chat is only for ADHD teenagers” jazz), but by that point we were really running out of time, so all I could do was give them the most cursory of explanations. One woman actually looked visably frustrated that I didn’t go into more depth on IM, although that looked passed quickly. (As quickly as my coverage of IM. Zoom!) Did I talk about how to use the Internet safely? How to avoid viruses and worms and spyware? How to avoid phishing? Yup. No identity theft for my students, no way!

It wasn’t a flop by any stretch, but I really could have made two or three or four classes out of that one. And maybe I will in the not-too-distant future. My library originally committed to doing two classes, an introduction to computers (which one of my fellow librarians taught) and an introduction to the Internet. Seeing how there’s a demand for these classes, we’re now discussing doing one a month, developing a curriculum and teaching a rotation of computer classes on more focused topics. It’s pretty goshdarned exciting.

And now? Where’s my pie and coffee? I think I deserve pie and coffee.