The Building an Effective Learning Culture Initiative – a Midpoint Check In

In mid-January, twelve intrepid teams from libraries and library organizations around North America  started a journey to build an effective learning culture. Since January, they have been hard at work developing vision statements, setting goals, and reading and learning and experimenting with ideas and activities. Each team regularly meets with a mentor for guidance and encouragement.

Yesterday, the 12 teams met online to share their progress. The initiative started in January and will wrap-up in June, so this was a great time for a midpoint check in. It was an inspiring meeting, which highlighted a few common overarching themes, but also underscored the unique ways in which each team is creating a learning culture that makes sense for their staff and their community.

What is an effective learning culture?

Teams shared thoughts and ideas about what an effective learning culture looks like:

  • A culture in which staff exemplify the same qualities they are trying to instill in their patrons, including: curiosity and the spirit of exploration (embracing the idea of being a lifelong learner), flexibility (there is more than one way to do something), and collaboration (use each other and your community as a resource)
  • The ideal learning culture is one where we take chances, are open to new ideas, and learn from our mistakes. We thrive on engaging and motivating our fellow staff, celebrate successes, and make time for all this learning to take place. Working as a team, through trust and communication, we ensure everyone has an opportunity to participate.
  • An environment in which staff will feel curious and excited to learn and safe to take risks

How do you build an effective learning culture?

Teams shared strategies for building that learning culture:

  • One team engaged all employees in co-creating an organizational Learning Philosophy — creating buy-in through employee involvement at all levels in the library.
  • It’s important for leadership to model the happiness that can come from learning new things.
  • A team reminded us, “All learning is lost without time for reflection and practice.”
  • Another team noted that people learn at different rates and by different methods. Someone who isn’t ‘getting with the program’ may be processing differently than everyone else.
  • And thank you to the team that reassured everyone, “It’s okay if you move a little slowly, because Change Is Hard.”
  • A favorite quote was shared: “Your best teacher is your last mistake.”

How do you foster learning?

Teams shared examples of HOW they will foster learning:

  • Library staff think tanks! Open time away from desks to think, explore, and collaborate…
  • All staff create an annual Individualized Learning Plan, which enables them to pursue their goals as they align with the strategic priorities of the Library.
  • One team will be holding their first annual learning summit in August!
  • A team shared the numerous creative opportunities they have for staff to share learning with one another, including podcasts, newsletter articles, and webinars.
  • One library is going to investigate Learning Management Systems that incorporate video and media content for quick training lessons.
  • A library is having their current MLIS student employees develop a “Principles of Libraries” training for new staff.

Thank you to these inspiring teams and individuals for being part of this initiative and for sharing experiences and learning.

faces of belc

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