How Do Off Duty Discussions Influence Your Library Practice?

Over the weekend, I spent a couple hours in discussion with three lawyers, one practicing, one retired from an academic career, and a third disillusioned and in the throes of considering other vocational options. At some point, the talk turned to classification–within library systems of materials and, in hyper-contrast (?), by the Nazis of populations–and the question was floated: are you a lumper or a splitter?

While the  most illogical assertion that came forth was: “Everyone’s a splitter,” the discussion did set me to considering how lumping and splitting influence both library practice and the work Infopeople does in regard to providing library staff development opportunities. How do you, as a library practitioner, view staff training opportunities?

  • Do different training topics suggest particular staff as well suited targets, either by staff classification (!) or by individual?
  • Do your own library’s organizing and reorgnizing efforts suggest training areas you believe Infopeople would be well suited to develop and offer?
  • Do training means and formats (webinars, live and archived; online, unfolding across time and with institutional commitment to required technical access both material and participant ability-centered; other) figure into your training promotions, agreements and/or suggestions?

When I look at participant evaluations completed by learners, I often note a high rate of identification with the survey statement that the participant is expected by his or her employer to share what has been learned during the course. What does that “sharing” mean to you, as the lead person in your library service configuration? Is it lumping the big “big takeaways” into a local staff message? Is it participant-centered and inclusive of how the actual training experiences–demonstrations, resources, interactions–might inform local library practices?

At the beginning of this post, I identified the training of the folks with whom I had the lumping/splitting discussion. Did that bit of lumping suggest a particular population type to you the reader? Had I identified them differently–either as personalities or in reference to what they share with me–would you have “seen” them differently? Are you a lumper or a splitter–or well aware that there are, indeed, times that require each of us to change up our comfortable go-to option? Times like when we consider how training and libraries, organization of services and the staff we support in providing those services, all have to swim in the same river?