ILEAD U: Springfield Big Read

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This is the second installment from the ILEAD U Project.  Click here or on the category hyperlink to read more about it. – Mick Jacobsen

Team Springfield Big Read includes Amanda Binder and Janelle Gurnsey from University of Illinois Springfield, Brookens Library; Julie Wullner from Lincoln Library, The Public Library of Springfield, Illinois; Amy Ihnen from Chatham Public Library District; and Sarah Garley from Rochester Public Library.  Together we represent four of the 14 partners of The Big Read in Central Illinois.  The Big Read is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services and Arts Midwest that promotes literary reading among Americans by having communities read and discuss a single book.  The Big Read in Central Illinois selected Carson McCullers’ The Heart is a Lonely Hunter.

Big Read Contest

The goal of the Springfield Big Read team was to use participatory technology to engage individuals ages 18-24 in The Big Read in Central Illinois.  We thought that a contest about music, central to the life of one of the main characters in the book, would appeal both to our targeted audience, and to people of all ages.  Under the Influence: Music that Inspires allows people to express how music inspires them through writing, video, audio or artwork.  All entries will be featured and voted on by the public on the contest website:  Winners will be awarded prizes at the kickoff event for The Big Read in Central Illinois on February 15, 2011.

ILEAD U provided us with access to a team of experts and our own personal mentor, Genna Buhr, to support us as we experimented with finding the best technologies to create our project.  We decided to design a website to centralize all activities associated with the contest.  One of the challenges we encountered through this process was choosing a platform that supported all of the elements of the contest, such as the online entry forms and voting and communication tools.  We originally selected Ning as our platform but eventually chose WordPress because it better served our needs.

Join Us!

Under the Influence: Music that Inspires is already helping to build awareness about the upcoming Big Read program:  Since the website was launched in early November, we have been pouring our efforts into promoting the contest.  Team libraries are now lending Flip cameras and will be using iPads purchased through the grant to promote participation in the contest both in our libraries and throughout our communities.  To keep people connected to activity on the website, and informed of deadlines for the contest, we created accounts on Facebook and Twitter.

We are excited for the contest to build momentum over the next few months.  Entries are accepted through January 7, 2011 and you do not need to live in the Springfield area to participate!  If you are interested in promoting the Under the Influence: Music that Inspires Expression Contest at your location feel free to download print materials from our website.

How has music inspired you?

TTW Contributor Mick Jacobsen