ALA Midwinter Conference: Did Someone Ask About Training?

For those of us who have attended many Infopeople training sessions, the simple question “How do you train staff?” was guaranteed to grab our attention during a session at the American Library Association (ALA) 2009 Midwinter Conference here in Denver this morning. And when the topic under discussion—the newly opened Knowledge Commons facility in the J. Willard Marriott Library on the University of Utah campus—drew attention to an immense new area of training opening up in the library world, it reminded us once again that one of the best aspects of training is that the need for it never ends.
Jill Moriearty from the Library’s staff introduced us to her campus’s wonderful addition to the growing world of information commons facilities—libraries featuring a tripartite combination of print collections, state of the art computer equipment, and library staff capable of serving as intermediaries between these powerful resources and those who want to know how to effectively use them. She described how staff worked for several years to create an appropriate vision for the University of Utah Knowledge Commons and how that vision has already begun evolving during the first few weeks that the facility has been open to its campus constituency. And she emphasized the need for a “tier training” program which begins with Knowledge Commons basics; continues with specific sessions designed to train staff on basic and advanced aspects of the software available in the facility; and includes leadership and management training so that the enthusiastic staff working in the Knowledge Commons will be well prepared to work with those who need the help they are expected to offer.
The countless examples of first-rate training techniques available to those of us familiar with and involved in Infopeople offerings help us see that much of what is already available will remain useful to staff in any library which follows the information commons model. Train-the-trainer techniques are obviously important here, as are hands-on workshops such as “Photoshop Elements for Libraries” and “Practical Podcasting and Videocasting.” And libraries which continue moving to fill users’ incredible hunger for assistance in learning how to use the overwhelming number of resources available to them are going to keep trainer-teacher-learners very busy in the months and years to come.
N.B.: Those interested in scheduling contract sessions of Infopeople’s various tech training workshops will find more information on the Infopeople website.