Staff and administrators in many libraries are starting to think about training which reaches all employees—not just librarians—and includes pre- and post-workshop activities with peer trainers. While others continue to think, Infopeople Training Consultant Cheryl Gould and key players at Contra Costa County Library here in the San Francisco Bay Area have been shaping this growing trend.
When County Librarian Anne Cain supported Library Human Resources Manager Janet Hildebrand and Cheryl’s proposal to have every one of the nearly 300 staff members working in the system’s 25 facilities register for standard one-day computer competencies workshops last year, she relied on a successful Library tradition: using peer trainers as an integral component of training sessions, Janet said recently in a conversation we had. Janet and Cheryl worked with Library staff. They combined Infopeople’s Increase Your Computer Competency: Practical Tips and Tricks workshop with the Helping the Public with Public Access Computers workshop. The result was a new session which would help the library director achieve the vision she, Janet, and Cheryl had for the Library’s staff.
The results went far beyond the initial goal of helping staff learn more about the technology they were using, according to Janet. By pulling in representatives of each unit within the Library system as the workshops were being developed, peer trainers were prepared; the course content was designed in a way which would meet needs of staff at every level of experience; and the peer trainers coalesced as a group through post-workshop follow-up sessions led by Cheryl.
“It was wonderful to see how much everyone got out of the class,” Janet said. “They were able to turn to their neighbors and give help. We were building, right there in those workshops, the basis for learning together and helping each other learn. We were developing a common language and an openness about discussing what we didn’t know. No one could miss that this was a wonderful thing that was happening.”
In summarizing the successes provided through this process, Janet noted that the “computer competency learning environment has become established and staff is talking to each other, reminding each other, suggesting to each other, looking over each other’s shoulders, asking for help.” Staff has also established and is using a computer-competency wiki. And, best of all, many of the same people who made the computer competency workshop project a success are working together again as a new training initiative is about to be rolled out to staff throughout the Library system.
“It was a fantastic project,” Cheryl agreed. “That was a wonderful, win-win project for the Library.”