Building an Effective Learning Culture: Webinar Recap

videoAt Infopeople’s November 1st Building an Effective Learning Culture webinar, two things became very clear:

  • Many libraries are already doing successful things to support effective professional learning. Great examples were shared!
  • Getting people together to talk about the hows and whys of a learning culture is a valuable experience. We can learn so much from one another!recording

Missed the webinar? No worries! A recording of the one-hour session is available, as are the PowerPoint slides, chat and handouts. Lisa Barnhart, Crystal Schimpf, Stephanie Gerding, Brenda Hough, Rachel Rubin, and Maurice Coleman all shared during the session.As a preview, here is a taste of the webinar content and discussion.

Building an effective learning culture is a journey not a destination and we’re all at different places. We asked webinar participants six “How does this work at your library?” questions and individuals shared their successes and challenges.

  1. Is there a BUDGET for professional learning?

As you might expect, responses varied greatly, from “Yes, solid funding!” to “Some funding” to “No funding”.

2. Is TIME for training/learning provided?

This sparked one of the most active discussions during the webinar. We mentioned Tooele City Library (UT) director Jami Carter’s experiences with having staff set a weekly goal that can be accomplished in one hour of learning  and asked other participants to share their experiences with time and professional learning.  Joan Blalock has also adopted the one-hour per week model in Spartanburg (SC). Some states/libraries have required CE hours. Several participants mentioned that finding time for training can be challenging, especially for part-time staff. A number of people mentioned that although there is time provided for formal learning opportunities, there is not a structure in place to support more informal learning.

3. Does the library have an ORGANIZED PROGRAM for staff development?

Not surprisingly, a number of webinar participants are in staff development or training positions in their libraries. Onboarding new staff was mentioned as a training need that sometimes dominates staff development time.

4. Is there LEADERSHIP BUY-IN regarding the importance of a learning culture?

Many webinar participants are in leadership roles in their libraries so when asked about leadership buy-in, they said, “That’s me and I’m actively encouraging it!” Other webinar participants reported varying levels of leadership buy-in.

5. Is there STAFF BUY-IN regarding the importance of a learning culture?

Based upon webinar participant input, this can be a challenge. While some staff enthusiastically embrace professional learning, getting other staff to buy-in can be difficult. Motivating ongoing learning seems to be a priority need.

6. What SUCCESSFUL METHODS has your library implemented for building a learning culture?

A lot of great ideas and examples were shared, including new hire orientation programs, individual learning plans for all staff, and leadership training programs.


Is your organization interested in really focusing attention on building your learning culture? If so, you may be interested in participating in Infopeople’s upcoming pilot project! Up to 10 libraries will be selected. Each library will create a team with 3-5 participants. The team members will complete work individually and as a group. A mentor will be assigned to each group. Team fees are $500/team for CA residents and $600/team for outside CA.

Interested in learning more? Additional details are here. Applications are being accepted until November 23, 2016. Teams will not be selected based upon a first come, first serve basis, but instead will be selected to ensure diverse library sizes and geographic locations.




Grant Projects: Learn from Others

In her upcoming Infopeople course Library Grants 101, Stephanie Gerding discusses the value of learning from others as you approach grant projects:

As you are planning your project, investigate similar projects, besgerdingt practices, and lessons learned by others. Make sure you are not duplicating work that has already been done. Contact managers of similar projects and ask them about their experiences and what they have learned. Include this information in your grant proposal to show the funder that you are well informed about what has already been done in the field and that you are knowledgeable about best practices. You may want to build on and extend the work of other projects. Your partners might also have good ideas to contribute.

Gerding’s books, Winning Grants and Grants for Libraries, include grant success stories from libraries across the country. Here are a few examples:

  • The Glendale Public Library received a LSTA grant from the Arizona State Library that included funding for state-of-the-art listening wands for a walking tour of their xeriscape botanical gardens. (Grants for Libraries, p.164)
  • The Laurelton Branch Library of Queens Borough Public Library in New York received a laptop computer lab as part of its Youth Empowerment Initiative, part of a larger, three-year project funded by the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services for $470,000. (Grants for Libraries, p. 170)
  • In Maine, Lawrence Junior High Library’s grant project included video journalism, which involved eighth graders creating an informative historical DVD to share with other libraries and students. The $3,500 grant was from the Coburn Classical Institute. (Grants for Libraries, p. 184)
  • Northeastern University Libraries received more than $20,000 for a LSTA grant project for adaptive technology to better serve community members with disabilities. (Grants for Libraries, p. 186)
  • The Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library at the University of Utah received a $450,000 grant for digitizing of materials related to Neuro-Ophthalmology from the National Library of Medicine. (Grants for Libraries, p. 192)

Have a grant project in mind? Have you reached out to others to ask about their experiences? We’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments below.

Participants in Gerding’s upcoming course will learn about grant work from start to finish, starting with finding the best funding sources and grant opportunities for your library through planning and writing grant proposals. Registration is now open at!

Communities of Learning: Cooking with the MaintainIT Project

For anyone still in doubt as to how quickly online communities of learning are developing, today’s Infopeople webinar featuring Brenda Hough and Stephanie Gerding from the MaintainIT Project provides a wonderful example of how far we have come. The collaborations between Infopeople, MaintainIT, and a variety of other organizations dedicated to providing the best possible learning opportunities and resources to those working in libraries seem to be growing so quickly that even those of us immersed in the process need a score card to keep up with everything.
MaintainIT, with a three-year grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and with strong connections to Tech Soup and WebJunction, is a combination of a social networking site and a trainer-teacher-learner’s dream in terms of what it offers. You can’t read more than a few words from the MaintainIT Project’s home page without immediately understanding what it offers: “We track down good ideas so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. The team at MaintainIT interviews hundreds of librarians, staff, and tech support personnel about supporting public computers, and publishes their good ideas in free cookbooks and articles.”
Hough and Gerding, through MaintainIT webinars and other activities, have developed a strong following among those involved in library training-teaching-learning endeavors—which, as noted in previous Infoblog postings, is a group which includes just about everyone working in libraries today. Their Infopeople session today attracted several of us already familiar with their offerings and introduced a larger audience of trainer-teacher-learners to the wide variety of free online training resources available to library staff, members, and guests.
Among the most intriguing offerings—there are quite a few, including the articles; a newsletter; and the webinars, which are often summarized on MaintainIT’s blog and available in archived format through links from that blog—are those cookbooks: nicely written instructional guides prepared through the contributions of those who see the project as a way to share resources.
The first is “A Cookbook for Small and Rural Libraries” and covers technology planning, computer maintenance, volunteer recruitment, technology training tips, and library technology in the future. The second offers “Recipes for a 5-Star Library,” with sections on wireless networks, PC reservation/time management software, print management, and laptop checkout programs. The third in the series, which is still in progress as of this writing, will include sections on Web 2.0, gaming in libraries, measuring the true costs and benefits of technology, communicating with techies and non-techies, purchasing technology, and the PC lifestyle.
Today’s webinar will be available through the Infopeople webcast and webinar archives, and listings for upcoming Infopeople offerings are also online. Upcoming MaintainIT webinars are available on the MaintainIT Project’s site.