Patron Training

LibraryYOU – training is an essential component

LibraryYOU is a project by the Escondido Public Libraryin California. It’s all about collecting and sharing local knowledge with videos and podcasts.

I had the opportunity to interview Donna Feddern from Escondido Public about the project. Our chat is about 30 minutes long and the recording is available here:

Donna has been tracking the progress of the project at, creating an invaluable record for librarians who are considering similar projects. Also, here’s more information about the Skokie Public Library Digital Media Lab (to which Donna refers).

One of my favorite things about this project is that it’s clearly not just about the podcasts and the videos. It’s about training the public to be able to make those videos and podcasts. It’s an exciting role for libraries and I look forward to seeing more projects like LibraryYOU in the future.

Patron Training, Train the trainer opportunities

Technology Concepts Made Simple – a webinar

I love the Common Craft videos. They so “get it”… the way people learn, the things people need to know to get started, etc. I aspire to be like them in the training I put together, too.

TechSoup for Libraries is hosting a webinar next week, during which Stephanie Gerding will be interviewing Lee LeFever from Common Craft. I think it’s one I don’t want to miss.

Patron Training, The Book

Want vs. Need

I’m working on the book and thinking about wants vs. needs. Regarding technology, what do library users need and what do they want? There’s another level to this question, too. What do librarians think users want and what do they really want (and what do librarians think users need and what do they really need)?

I’ve been doing some searching on the topic of want vs. need and see it approached in psychological (think about Maslow’s hierarchy for ex.) and in economic (think about your personal budget for ex.) ways.

The book will cover many aspects of library technology, but since I’m posting this on my training blog, what are user wants and needs regarding library technology training? What classes do they want? What classes do they need? How do you determine those wants and needs?

The patron technology training classes I most frequently see offered are:
– Introduction to Computers
– Introduction to the Internet
– Introduction to Microsoft Word
(often with more creative titles).

They seem like NEED sorts of classes — essential elements of basic technological literacy in 2009. What do you think? Is your library offering classes that are serving wants or needs? Have you done any formal research to determine user wants and needs? Or are the library’s class offerings based on informal knowledge (based on daily interactions with patrons)? Email me if you like or comment here! I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic. Thank you!

Library staff development, Patron Training, Train the trainer opportunities

In the Club

Talking technology

It has been a long time since I belonged to a living, breathing, get together and eat chocolate and talk literature kind of book club. I’d like to be part of one again someday, but for now, non-work time needs to be focused on dissertation — writing it, defending it; too many y-e-a-r-s of life have been about it; ready to be done.

I do get to be regularly involved with a different sort of book club, however.  Every month I participate in a technology book club discussion for MaintainIT. We choose a chapter from one of the MaintainIT Cookbooks and then gather online to discuss it.

I like it as a technology learning format. In the fall of 2003, I published an article in Computers in Libraries magazine called, “Everything you need to know about training you learned in summer reading programs”. I had observed the organization and collaboration and energy that happened around summer reading programs (in large libraries and in small) and wished, Why can’t we do that with technology training?

A lot has happened in the years in between then and now. I love the creativity and innovation happening, with interesting, large-scale technology training programs and smaller efforts, too. One of the very best examples is the influential Learning 2.0 program aka “23 Things”. Helene Blowers has discussed the similarities between 23 Things and summer reading program. Lori Reed wisely pointed out to me that technology book clubs really are like the 23 Things style learning activities. As she said, “the ideal technology training session would always consist of self study followed by an in-person session where learners have the opportunity to ask questions and get a deeper understanding of the technology.”

At NEKLS, we started an online book discussion related to technology titles, too. There are so many possibilities, I think. If you’re doing some sort of technology book club, I’d love to hear about it (in the comments or email me please)!

Trainers will be talking about this idea of using book clubs for technology learning in next week’s MaintainIT train-the-trainer webinar. Sign-up if you would like to join the discussion (it’s free).

And if you’re going to be at the California Library Association conference in San Jose next week, I’ll be presenting on this topic there, too (“Not on Oprah’s List: The MaintainIT Project’s Technology Book Clubs”). Stop by and say ‘hi’!

Patron Training

Transformation: The Dragonfly Project

Here’s an example of a library technology training project making an impact! Check out The Dragonfly Project @ The Haines Borough Public Library (the library is located in a small, rural Alaskan community).

“Tech-savvy young people from ages 11 to 21 are the teachers, sharing their computer skills with others by becoming mentors. They learn how to use the library’s technology and resources, develop materials and techniques to teach concepts and skills, do community outreach, and work one-on-one with a wide variety of people.”

I like the project tag line, “Bringing Technology Awareness to the Community.” I think that word AWARENESS is an accurate description of the most important role library technology training can play. Many of today’s technology tools are intuitive and do not require step-by-step instruction to use them. Instead, I think people need resources and assistance to gain basic technology skills. Once they have achieved those skills, I think they can benefit from training opportunities that focus on awareness — training that provides a sense of possibilities and provides a venue for exploration and creativity.

Another thing I really like about this project is the emphasis on reaching out to the community. It’s not just about serving whoever walks through the door. It’s thinking about who is outside the door, unaware of the resources and potential that exist.

If you’re like me, you wondered why the project is named “dragonfly”. Here’s the explanation from the site:

“In Tlingit mythology, dragonflies are thought to be transports of the human soul for shamans, symbols of transformation. Our hope is by helping young people teach adults the ways of computer technology lives will be transformed.”

Patron Training

Rural Libraries and Patron Training

The Public Libraries and the Internet report states that public libraries are:

“Providing training to help raise patrons’ skill levels. Seniors, people without Internet access at home, and adults seeking continuing education are the primary audiences of technology training. While a majority of libraries offer training, only 28% offer training on a scheduled basis (either weekly or monthly). That percentage drops to approximately 16% for patrons served by rural libraries, but increases to nearly 64% for patrons served by urban libraries”.

Only 16% of rural libraries…. This report was published in 2004 – I wonder if that number has increased. I can see why the number is low – lack of staff time, lack of equipment, etc. I do know, however, that there are some rural libraries that have found creative ways to overcome those obstacles and provide great training for their communities. Grant funding for equipment, the use of volunteers as trainers, partnerships with schools or other organizations — all of these things can help make technology training a possibility. And, it’s often one person (with a vision and a mission) who jumpstarts a great training program.

Another thing that can really help rural libraries is being able to “borrow” materials that have been created by larger libraries. Please make your training materials available online and let people know they are there! Hennepin Co, for example, is great about sharing their materials — check out their extranet to see some recent items of interest to librarians.

Patron Training

Library Instruction Wiki

From Rebecca…

You know the phrase “kill two birds with one stone”? Well, welcome to the Library Instruction Wiki, a “collaboratively developed resource for librarians involved with or interested in instruction.” Not only can you contribute your ideas and practices, but you can access a multitude of library instruction information contributed by other “librarians with class.” Pretty nifty.

Some areas of interest include:
~ Handouts, tutorials, and other resources to share
~Teaching techniques, tips and tricks
~Bibliography/selected reading

I don’t know about some of you, but as the description of this wiki suggest, let’s not reinvent the wheel. It’s absolutely fabulous when you have the time and energy – and resources – to create new curricula (my hats off to you overachievers out there!), but let’s be honest, most of us are trying to stay afloat in our positions by doing twenty things at once. Currently I conduct technology training, coordinate ALL staff development training, plus keep up with the normal every day rigmarole: meetings, email, administrative crap, more meetings. Knowing that I can easily access selected readings created from the input of numerous trainers not only fascinates me, but it makes me really, really happy.

Check it out folks. And stop reinventing the wheel!