Best Practices: Trainer, Train Thyself (Part 1 of 2)

Carole Leita’s Infoblog post earlier this week draws attention to a myth-breaking report from University College London (UCL), the British Library, and the Joint Information Systems Committee: Information Behavior of the Researcher of the Future. Her post also makes me think about the current behavior of those of us who are or have been involved in staff training and development programs.
We spend our time racing from task to task, engaged in delivering training sessions just in time to meet our colleagues’ needs or plugging gaps we inadvertently ignored. We rarely take the time to read the kind of report Carole helped to publicize. Which, of course, means that we remain less effective than we should be at shaping the way training programs are designed and implemented.
There is no single culprit for this particular failing. We respond, within the time we have, to requests and mandates from our colleagues, our supervisors and administrators, and the other clients we serve. (The fact that some of us raise our eyebrows in surprise at the idea that we have “clients” shows how far behind we are as potential leaders in the world of libraries and training.) We need to be more diligent in making time to read reports such as the UCL paper, OCLC’s wonderful membership reports, the Pew/Internet report on How people use the internet, libraries, and government agencies when they need help, and the Public Agenda report, Long Overdue: A Fresh Look at Public and Leadership Attitudes About LIBRARIES in the 21st Century.
Feeling overwhelmed again? The challenge of making time to read on the job is daunting—but not insurmountable. We need to convince our clients that reading, thinking about, reacting to, discussing, and incorporating into our lives the rich and well thought out reports which rarely hit our radar screens are actions with ample rewards for everyone. We also need to teach ourselves and our colleagues how to effectively sift through the RSS feeds, blogs, and other online resources which help us find these reports; we should be learning and helping others learn how to use aggregators such as Netvibes, Pageflakes, and Google Reader to organize and manage the overwhelming flow of information which threatens to bury us each day.
It starts with our own commitment to fighting for, insisting on, the idea that using a little time each day at work to see what others are writing, saying, and doing in our field of expertise is well worth establishing as a priority.
Next: What the UCL Report Suggests for Trainers

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