By Dorothy Pawlowski
While much has been written about the role of academic libraries in supporting massive open online courses (MOOCs), the inclusion of MOOCs in a public library setting is largely unexplored territory.
This past summer, the Ridgefield Library included a MOOC as part of its adult summer reading program. I believe that public libraries offer the perfect “meet-up” location for MOOCs and wanted to put this theory to the test. A Coursera class entitled The Fiction of Relationship taught by professor Arnold Weinstein from Brown University was selected, based on the library’s previous success with literature-based programs and with requests from patrons for more.
After contacting Coursera and receiving approval for this use of the course, the library made The Fiction of Relationship the centerpiece of its adult summer reading program. Patrons who participated registered both on the Coursera website and with the library, and those without access to computers at home were able to complete their sign-up at Ridgefield. Curriculum materials spanned works from classic authors such as Charlotte Brontë, Herman Melville, Franz Kafka, and Virginia Woolf to more contemporary authors such as Jorge Luis Borges, Toni Morrison, and J.M. Coetzee. The library acquired multiple copies of assigned books through interlibrary loan. For those with access to an ereader, many of the classics were also available as free ebooks.
[ Full article available at Library Journal: http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2013/12/public-services/moocing-at-the-public-library/ ]