One thing this class has done is given me a new perspective with which to evaluate the world around me. This Fall I began an internship with the Friends of the St. Paul Library working on the Minnesota Book Awards. Last year they made a significant 2.0 improvement to the Awards with the creation of the Readers’ Choice Award. At http://www.twincities.com/bookawards anyone can vote for their favorite finalist book. In the first year they got about 3,000 votes and this year it has doubled. (Voting is open until March 31 – so if you are reading this before that go check it out) Other things that they are doing include posting book discussion guides and video author interviews from last year winners. The goal is to build a library of free guides and interviews for use by any public library.
This is a great beginning, but my brain can imagine more, such as discussion boards both for the public and a private one for the judges. It’s the latter idea that intrigues me. Due to my mother’s health, I took an I last term in User Instruction and I will be completing the work once this class is completed. The main thing I need to do is create an online tutorial. (Actually, it worked out pretty well to do this after taking this class) I had been planning to create a tutorial for the judges about the MBA policies and procedures and tips on how to judge the merit of a book. Now I think I’ll create a wiki that not only would have the tutorial in it, but a discussion area for the judges to talk to each other – similar to how the National Book Awards run their judge interactions – and a discussion area for the judges to talk to the office. After all, why answer question one at a time, when there’s probably someone else out there with the same question. The wiki would, of course, be password protected.
Currently the Minnesota Book Awards does not want the judges to talk amongst themselves in advance of the offical judging day. I think this is to insure that their thoughts do not become public and to guard against one judge dominiating the discussion. When I started there, I didn’t question this policy. Through the lens of Library 2.0, I question the secrecy. On judging day, there are faciliators in the room to help insure that all judges get to speak their minds. I don’t really see where having discussions prior to the actual judging day would hurt the process. Final decisions wouldn’t be made, but the conversation could get deeper. Especially when you realize that in the preliminary round of judging, the judges are often comparing up to about 50 books and selecting 4 for the finalist slots. There is often a wide range of materials in the same catagory and I think a long-term discussion over a lengthy period of time would be a good thing.
I’m really curious to know what you guys think.