Halton: Digital Skills Sharing Project - Reading Families
2 NW Library Services, Halton & Lancashire, took part in The Reading Agency's digital skill sharing project during 2012 and developed a project called Reading Families. They were partnered in this by Publishers - Raintree and Faber & Faber.
The idea of the project was that some cross- generational families would share their reading interests and enthusiasms with other library users, particularly by using digital technology and social media specifically. It was hoped that family members and staff would all improve their digital skills, while publishers would find new ways to make direct contact with readers.
Much of this information below is based on a report supplied Halton Libraries, but Lancashire Libraries were also closely involved with this project so the information stands for both, and Lancs will be able to provide more detailed information on request.
Families were recruited using social media, local news and radio sources. Staff also identified families by word of mouth from suggestions made by colleagues and friends.
This project was as much about staff learning, as the families. The digital platforms that we aimed to produce content for were
- Library Blogs
- You Tube
Dedicated staff were required to know how to set up an account and the basic mechanics of each of the platforms to support the families as well as their own learning. A list of suggested online help /guides were produced to facilitate this.
Displays of the families 30 titles in two of the libraries
Images of collections used for social media
We received several reviews from our families including two from 7 year old Charlotte Smith
This resulted in the item appearing in the local newspapers, hard copy and online. The article was one of our most heavily 'viewed' posts on the Halton Libraries' Facebook page
We continue to keep our families up to date with a weekly email
The project launched a Pinterest site at the end of August and it was an immediate success and was even reported in the local papers!
Pinterest supported the project by minimising the time consuming nature of describing the favourite book titles, the images linked back to the relevant page in the library catalogue and the families really liked contributing to it
Lancashire Libraries also found that families really enjoyed using Pinterest
Reading Families was an interesting project to take part in. Halton tailored the project with a view to working within local constraints i.e. staff and service capacity. This resulted in a project that is sustainable and which will continue to be developed and taken forward beyond the end of the overall project timeframe.
- Halton Library Service - experienced in delivering innovative projects
- Skill levels of staff
- Keen, dedicated support staff
- Project appealed to a specific target audience
- Cross authority working
- Support of Time to Read & TRA
- Support from HBC Communications and Marketing Team resulted in excellent local coverage of project
- Halton Council allows/encourages the use of social networking as a marketing/engagement tool
- Staff Development
- Reader Development
- Emergence of suitable social networking platforms
- Build on and expand digital learning to other staff
- Raise profile of library service as an vital, innovative service
- High expectations of participants not being met (books from publishers, events etc.)
- Participants leaving the project
- Mistrust of social networking (among some participants, especially Facebook in Lancs )
- Political climate - Staffing & service constraints due to lack of funding
- Environmental factors - small area demographic , low inspirational/participation community
Ideas for further development:
- Encourage more families to sign up to project
- Greater participation by families in the digital aspect of project
- Development of a single 'Reading Families' collection
- Cascade digital learning to other library staff
- Develop a focus group
Some stats from Halton:
- Facebook - 35 posts
- Pinterest - 14 boards / 350 pins
- a Blog - 5 posts
- Twitter - 15 tweets
- Local papers - 7 reports