or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk


NELA-ITS Spring 2008 Workshop

   June 12th, 2008 Brian Herzog

Library-Wide Proficiencies PresentationLibrary-Wide IT Proficiency Workshop
New England Library Association, Information Technology Section
June 12, 2008 - Bryant University, RI
Gary McCone & Grace Sines

I'm writing today from the NELA-ITS Spring 2008 workshop. The handouts are available below, so I'll just be annotating with a few points throughout the day, and also trying to add pictures to flickr.

Here are the handouts, that were provided to all attendees on a flash drive:

Part I
Overview of the National Agriculture Library, and the services they offer. Being a national library, they are a resource for everyone, so check them out.

Library-Wide IT Proficiencies

  • Why are IT proficiencies important? It's important to get IT support right the first time with the end-user, so front-line staff need to feel comfortable in both doing the support and managing expectations (we cannot "fix the internet").
  • Keys to success Enable non-IT staff, excellent communications, understand end-users (needs, vocabulary and skills), know where knowledge or information lies within the organization, don't get stressed - we're all working towards the same goal
  • Get to know your users Know their generation, but get past stereotypes - teach based on how different generations learn
  • Expect things to change Technology will change, staff and users needs and skills will change - must expect change and be flexible to accommodate it
  • Listen to end-users Meet with end-users in a non-threatening way to learn directly from them what they need (although it might be delicate, focus on what is wrong, because no one is happy with IT), and work to get ongoing feedback

Part II
Roadmap to creating an IT-Savvy Library Staff

  • Technology Core Competencies Abilities, knowledge and skill required to do the job - can be itemized based on areas or tasks, such as "printer & copier," "operating system," "email," etc.
  • Types Can be task-based (skill: refill printer paper) or descriptive (knowledge: know how to surf the internet)
  • Get involvement from everyone Everyone should be involved in defining them and what is needed to achieve them (management, professional staff, front-line staff, etc)
  • Plan implementation Everyone knows what's happening and what to expect, and how competencies can be met
  • Resources
  • Why have them? Promote customer service, increase motivation, address fear/threats of technology or people with limited skills (and don't be afraid of providing incentives and praise)
  • IT Liaison Program Designate one person from each department to be the lead liaison with the IT department - hopefully someone interested in IT, to be the first point of contact
  • Ideas for training Experts in the library leading sessions, creating fact sheets (your own knowledge base), online training/webinars (free and fee), weekly tips. mentoring programs, regional trainers, keep track of what library staff don't know (FAQs)
  • Topics for training Evolving technologies, real-world issues (spam, phishing, flash drives, etc), tour the library website, Google labs, digital rights management, RSS, media formats (flash, audio, interactivity, etc), hardware petting zoo (new gadgets, gizmos and games)


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