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Level-Up Labs

Lab bottleWelcome to SWON’s Level-Up Lab, a place where you can take your work to the next level. This is more than a class. It’s hands-on practice with time to improve your current project so that you’re better prepared for your next project.

For each meeting, we’ll design a Lab session around a specific program, service or piece of hardware. We’ll work together with you to improve:

  • your processes
  • your output
  • your resources

Let’s look at some examples to see what this means in practice.

Microsoft Publisher

Let’s say you have a basic knowledge of Publisher, but you’re making most of the changes manually, and making two documents look the same is a real headache. Bring the Publisher file you’re working on to the Level-Up Lab.

Nathan will go over some of the Publisher features that he finds most useful for getting work done. Then we’ll open up your file and help you use the features Nathan discussed to improve that document and the way you use Publisher as a whole. Nathan will also share Publisher, font, and image resources that you can use when you get back to your desk.

LinkedIn (also available as a Lunch & Learn)

Let’s say you have a LinkedIn account that you set up a while ago. It was accurate then, but you’ve mostly ignored it since then, and you’re not sure what you should post there now. Bring your login information with you to the Level-Up Lab.

Melanie will go over some of the LinkedIn features that she finds most useful for making connections. Then we’ll log in to your account so you can work on making specific updates and learn how to better use the whole site. Melanie will also share resources you could use for further reading that can help you continue to use LinkedIn well.

Email Management

How many emails are sitting in your Inbox? Thousands? Left alone, your Inbox can grow so big that you don’t even want to open it. Some people declare “email bankruptcy” and delete their entire Inbox. Whether your Inbox is bursting or you just want a better way to handle your email, the Email Lab can help.

At the Lab session, I’ll cover some of the ways you can put your email system to work for you: create folders (for emails that belong in a single box) and tags (for emails that belong to multiple categories); automate that organizing with email filters; use a workflow to prioritize and track which emails need a response and when. Your Inbox might not be empty at the end, but you’ll be well on your way to a bet.

Beginning HTML & CSS

If you create content for the web, you’re using HTML. That HTML code is often hidden, and if you’re given Microsoft Word-looking tools to use, that code is often a mess. By learning how to use basic HTML, you can work faster and have better control over your content and its formatting.

In this Lab, you’ll get hands-on practice writing basic HTML. This includes headings, body text, lists and tables (and definitions of those terms, too). It also includes an introduction to CSS, which (for example) lets you set the color for all the links on a page with one line of code. If this sounds foreign, this class is designed for you!

You won’t learn everything about HTML & CSS. There’s way too much! Instead, we’ll focus on the code you might use to write a blog post: format text, add images and links. With the hand-out you’ll receive, you’ll learn how to recognize and use these elements of HTML.

Get a solid start on HTML & CSS at this Level-Up Lab.

Content Marketing

Content Marketing is a way to serve your patrons before they set foot in the library. It's a way of showing patrons examples of what they might learn or be able to do by visiting. It's still selling, despite the nicely-worded definition above, but marketing doesn't have to be sneaky or manipulative.

You can use Content Marketing to begin building relationships with patrons. One of the challenges of marketing is that it tries to address two sets of needs: the organization's and the customer's. Too often, marketing addresses the organization's needs--"Use our service!"--instead of the customer's desire to accomplish a goal. These messages can look good internally but not prompt much response. In this Lab, Nathan will share some basic marketing tips, and we'll use examples (hopefully your examples!) to discover opportunities to use Content Marketing in your libraries.

Topics, Topics, Topics

SWON has a growing list of Level-Up Labs. Here are other Labs we've led:

  • Introduction to Personality Theory
  • Website Usability Testing on the Cheap
  • LibGuides
  • Personality Theory for Supervisors and Managers
  • Leading in a Collaborative Environment
  • Dealing with Conflict
  • Project Management

Don't see the Lab you'd like to take? There's a Lab you'd like to lead? Tell us about it!

You Come To SWON, Or SWON Comes To You

To take this hands-on approach, we’ll need to limit the Lab to 12 people at a time. We’ll schedule Labs here at SWON, where we can set up our laptops in our conference room.

If you’d prefer SWON to come to your organization, we’re glad to. We’ll work with you to set a date and time, and the cost is either $300 or your SWON consulting credit for the year. At your site, you can invite staff, students, or the public; whomever you like! But class size is still limited to 12 so that everyone can get the hands-on help they need.

Join the Lab Online

Need help with one of these topics when a Lab isn't in session? We've opened a new Level-Up Lab online-only Special Interest Group. With discussion forums opening for each Level-Up Lab topic, it's a place to ask questions as you go along.

We have lots of ideas of future sessions we could offer, from using Twitter to Photoshop, Wordpress to the iPad and Excel. But our priority is what’s useful to you. Join the Tech SIG and you’ll help us steer the Level-Up Lab. (Lab coat not included.)

Sound Good?

Click here to see the schedule of upcoming Level-Up Labs!

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