Tag Archives: Library directors

Informal Training: when staff requires more than just on the job learning

15 May

Libraries are spaces that foster learning. Most librarians love helping users and teaching information literacy skills has become a fundamental concept in librarianship studies. So what happens when it is the librarians who need help learning? We are all conscious that libraries are constantly evolving; systems are updated with new features, new services are added, policies change to better reflect the times, etc. Yet are we doing a good job of making sure that all staff are aware and comfortable responding to these changes?  In a large library system like mine, we can receive several memos a day informing us of new additions to the catalogue/circulation system, services, policies, etc. There is a huge difference between staff reading these memos and being vaguely aware of them and then having staff who actually understand the changes on a level that permits them to integrate them into their work or confidently explain them to a user.

I have been thinking a lot about this lately specifically in relation to our provincial library system’s introduction of OverDrive. In the fall, our Public Service Librarian from our regional office provided us with a brief OverDrive training session. This training was unfortunately during opening hours of the library which meant that we were constantly being interrupted by users with questions and having to answer the phone. With all the distractions, it was very difficult to assimilate what we were being shown and as we know, OverDrive is full of little hiccups regarding compatibility issues and software which are hard to address until you run into them. As time goes on, more and more users have been asking about Overdrive and I realized that staff were completely reliant on me to answer all OverDrive related questions. People who work in libraries are very intelligent. However, without being taught the knowledge necessary to accurately respond to users’ inquiries, the situation between staff and users can be very discouraging and possibly even embarrassing.

Last week, I decided that it was time to sit down in front of a computer with a full-time librarian assistant and a library volunteer and download together an audiobook onto my Ipod. It was informal and during the process I was asked so many questions that went much beyond OverDrive concerning the differences between devices like iPads, iPods, MP3 players, smartphones, etc. I was happy that even though I am not the most tech-savvy person out there, I was still able to share knowledge that I do have. It was extremely rewarding to see how appreciative both women for the informal training. They now feel better prepared responding to inquiries and conversing with others on the subject of the different formats of e-books/audiobooks and how to download them.

It is fantastic that libraries present themselves as keeping up with the tech trends including providing the download of e-books. However, how well is staff being trained to respond to all the new technology in their workplace?

What is the environment like at your library for training librarians and staff and then working together as a team so that everyone feels comfortable with their new knowledge and skills?

Salon des Bibliothécaires -Budgets

19 Nov

Last night I attended this fall’s 2nd “Salon des Bibliothécaires” hosted by the CLA Montreal Chapter. Like October’s salon, it was held at EM Café in Mile End and although less people attended than last month, it was still very fun and informative. Our two experts were Ann Moffat, the newly retired director of Westmount Public Library and Suzanne Payette, the director of la Bibliothèque de Brossard. Both these women have extensive experience creating and managing library budgets and they shared many examples of practical advice on how they have dealt with issues like budget cuts, staff demands, getting extra money for special projects, etc. At first I didn’t think that it would be relevant for me to attend this “salon” because I figured that once I graduate from library school in April, it will be awhile before I am in a position where I need to manage a library’s budget. However, I have heard recently of two graduates from last April who were hired as head cégep librarians. This means they must not only manage the budget but also the staff of library technicians and circulation employees, the collection, and all the other administrative duties. Whew! Talk about a baptism by immersion!

I guess the lesson that I retained from last night’s Salon is to be ready for anything. Both Ann Moffat and Suzanne Payette emphasized the fact that budgets are not as scary as they seem which reassured me that by paying attention and applying a bit of common sense, I should do fine if one day if I do need to manage a budget.