Communities of Learning: Cooking with the MaintainIT Project

For anyone still in doubt as to how quickly online communities of learning are developing, today’s Infopeople webinar featuring Brenda Hough and Stephanie Gerding from the MaintainIT Project provides a wonderful example of how far we have come. The collaborations between Infopeople, MaintainIT, and a variety of other organizations dedicated to providing the best possible learning opportunities and resources to those working in libraries seem to be growing so quickly that even those of us immersed in the process need a score card to keep up with everything.
MaintainIT, with a three-year grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and with strong connections to Tech Soup and WebJunction, is a combination of a social networking site and a trainer-teacher-learner’s dream in terms of what it offers. You can’t read more than a few words from the MaintainIT Project’s home page without immediately understanding what it offers: “We track down good ideas so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. The team at MaintainIT interviews hundreds of librarians, staff, and tech support personnel about supporting public computers, and publishes their good ideas in free cookbooks and articles.”
Hough and Gerding, through MaintainIT webinars and other activities, have developed a strong following among those involved in library training-teaching-learning endeavors—which, as noted in previous Infoblog postings, is a group which includes just about everyone working in libraries today. Their Infopeople session today attracted several of us already familiar with their offerings and introduced a larger audience of trainer-teacher-learners to the wide variety of free online training resources available to library staff, members, and guests.
Among the most intriguing offerings—there are quite a few, including the articles; a newsletter; and the webinars, which are often summarized on MaintainIT’s blog and available in archived format through links from that blog—are those cookbooks: nicely written instructional guides prepared through the contributions of those who see the project as a way to share resources.
The first is “A Cookbook for Small and Rural Libraries” and covers technology planning, computer maintenance, volunteer recruitment, technology training tips, and library technology in the future. The second offers “Recipes for a 5-Star Library,” with sections on wireless networks, PC reservation/time management software, print management, and laptop checkout programs. The third in the series, which is still in progress as of this writing, will include sections on Web 2.0, gaming in libraries, measuring the true costs and benefits of technology, communicating with techies and non-techies, purchasing technology, and the PC lifestyle.
Today’s webinar will be available through the Infopeople webcast and webinar archives, and listings for upcoming Infopeople offerings are also online. Upcoming MaintainIT webinars are available on the MaintainIT Project’s site.