Measuring the Value and Effect of Learning 2.0 Programs in Libraries

This is from the proposal. It frames what we’ll be investigating:

“I believe that this has been one of the most transformational and viral activities to happen globally to libraries in decades.”   Stephen Abram., Stephen’s Lighthouse, February 5, 2008

The genesis of Learning 2.0 began with an article by library futurist Stephen Abram. “Helene Blowers of PLCMC took the article “Things You (or I) Might Want To Do This Year” by SirsiDynix’s Stephen Abram and distilled it down to 23 things that she wanted her staff to understand through hands-on experience,” Hastings noted in a 2007 Library Journal article. Blowers recognized “that librarians need to know how to participate in the new media mix if libraries are to remain relevant,” In Wired magazine’s online companion, Hanly (2007) reported the plan was to include all staff in learning. “Blowers challenged her 550 staffers to become more web savvy. Using free web tools, she designed the program and gave staff members three months to do 23 things.” 

Since 2006, libraries around the world have offered variations of the “23 Things” for their staff based on the all-staff inclusive learning program developed at the Public Library of Charlotte Mecklenberg County. At last count, program creator Helene Blowers, now Director of Digital Strategy at the Columbus Metropolitan Library, reported in School Library Journal “the program had easily reached more than 500 libraries in 15 countries in just two short years” (2008b). Recently, Blowers (2009) estimated close to 1000 libraries and organizations have used the program:

Don’t ask me the number of libraries or organizations? With programs having been run by the National Library of Norway, the State Library of Victoria, Maryland public libraries statewide, 23 Things on a Stick for multiple libraries and organizations, I really have no way of knowing the total impact or number of organizations that have adopted the program. But from my delicious links and growing communications folder I can tell you this… the number is definitively over 700 and more then likely hovers somewhere just under 1000 organizations worldwide. 

Created to introduce staff to the emerging “Web 2.0” tools of the day, the programs have evolved as new tools are introduced and various practitioners report on successful implementations of the course. Some have called the program transformational (Abram, 2008) while others have lauded its ability to bring staff together in a common goal: learning emerging technologies. Lewis (2008) noted “the Learning 2.0 program had a great impact on staff, who now know they are capable of learning new technologies.” Gross and Leslie (2008) reported success with the program in an academic library setting but noted “to our knowledge, no formal evaluation of Learning 2.0 has been conducted.  However, the take-up rate among libraries worldwide has been impressive and stands as an endorsement of the program. The accolades from enthusiastic library staff who  have undertaken Learning 2.0, mainly in the USA, can be found on the  biblioblogosphere.”

Replicated across the globe, the program has been touted as a means to not only educate staff about emerging social technologies but as a method of moving libraries forward into a future of 21st century innovation (Lewis, 2008), openness and transparency (Casey & Stephens, 2008). The purpose of this study is to quantify and evaluate the effectiveness of such programs in Australian libraries, focusing on the public library and academic library setting to develop an exemplary model for more libraries to use for staff education.

Abram, S. (2006). 43 Things I might want to do this year. Information Outlook. Retrieved February 26, 2009 from

Abram, S. (2008). The 23 Things – Learning 2.0. Stephen’s Lighthouse. Retrieved February 28, 2009 from

Blowers, H. (2006). Learning 2.0 Powerpoint presented at Internet Librarian, Monterey, CA.

Blowers, H. (2008a). Learning 2.0: Lessons Learned from “Play” Retrieved from

Blowers, H. (2008b). “Ten tips about 23 things.” School Library Journal. Retrieved February 14, 2009 from

Blowers, H. (2009). WJ hosts 23 Things summit. LibraryBytes. Retrieved March 5, 2009 from

Casey, M. & Stephens, M. (2008) “Cheers and Jeers.” Library Journal. Retrieved February 26, 2008 from

Gross, J. & Leslie, L (2008). “Twenty-three steps to learning Web 2.0 technologies in an academic library.” The Electronic Library, 26:6 p790 – 802 

Hanly, B. (2007) Public Library Geeks Take Web 2.0 to the Stacks. Retrieved February 12, 2009 from

Hastings, R. (2007). “Journey to Library 2.0.” Library Journal. Retrieved February 15, 2009 from

Lewis, L. (2008). Library 2.0: taking it to the street. Retrieved February 16, 2009 from