OCLC has received a $4.1 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support five years of ongoing operations of WebJunction, the learning place for libraries.
Built with grant funding from the Gates Foundation and launched in 2003, OCLC’s WebJunction has helped more than 70,000 library staff build the job skills they need to meet the challenges of today’s environment. WebJunction.org provides a wealth of training resources—including online courses, webinar presentations, downloadable curricula, and real-world examples collected from libraries—to share the knowledge, skills and support that power relevant, vibrant libraries. WebJunction programs support library staff working daily to connect their local communities with the content, space and services they need to enrich and transform lives.
The new grant will support OCLC’s continued development of the programs, content and systems of WebJunction.org, and provide long-term sustainability of services that will help libraries thrive in changing and challenging technological environments today and into the future.
“Since 2002, we have worked with OCLC to ensure that public libraries—especially small and rural public libraries—have had the resources they need to be portals to vital information,” said Deborah Jacobs, Director of the Global Libraries at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “Together, our goal has been to equip these libraries with the technologies and skills needed to change lives and strengthen communities through access to information.”
“Over these 10 years we have seen how offering technical assistance and training to library staff through the WebJunction.org online community can help us accomplish this goal and make a powerful difference in the effectiveness of a library,” said Ms. Jacobs. “In these tough economic times, libraries are more of an essential community resource than ever. This grant will help them, many of whom face shrinking budgets, stay up to speed.”
“The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and OCLC have developed an outstanding partnership based on our mutual interest and shared passion to help libraries succeed,” said Cathy De Rosa, OCLC Vice President for the Americas and Global Vice President of Marketing. “As we celebrate the 10th anniversary of WebJunction, we are grateful to the Gates Foundation for their continued support and to the library staff members who have built WebJunction into a vital hub for public libraries to gather and share best practices, experiences and expertise.”
WebJunction’s training resources, programs and content have been used by staff in 69 percent of U.S. public libraries. From July 2011 through June 2012, staff enrolled in more than 19,000 courses via WebJunction and more than 17,000 staff members registered for 26 free webinar programs offered on hot topics in the library profession.
“Library staff must keep their skills current to face the evolving needs of library users,” said Sharon Streams, Senior Manager, Community Services, WebJunction. “But managing staff training can be expensive, inconvenient, and difficult to fund and maintain. With WebJunction, OCLC partners with state library and other service agencies to provide cost-effective training and staff development programs that are convenient to access and easy to manage.”
Eighteen state library agencies partner with OCLC to offer their members sponsored access to self-paced courses and localized training content through WebJunction.org. One of the first state library partners was Connecticut State Library.
“For Connecticut, WebJunction is our main resource for library development,” said Kendall Wiggin, State Librarian. “We use WebJunction to provide information and courses on technology, managing a library, advocacy at a time of diminishing resources, and ways to better assist people coming into the library. It is also a great place for librarians to share and discuss experiences on timely issues or projects.”