Lots of training news!

Is there really a slow time around Infopeople training roll outs?  Nah! And so far, this August is proving to be busy for those of us creating lots of new content areas and formats for library staff training and development!

Here’s an overview of what’s happening, and a glimpse ahead, too:

With the Affordable Care Act approaching a new stage, that of health insurance enrollment, libraries and library staff have been called upon to prepare to assist our community members to accessing information and the tools needed to expedite individual and family enrollments. There is a humongous amount of information for us all to recognize and absorb–and we know you are already busy. So, upcoming very soon is Infopeople’s online resources page dedicated to leading you and your staff to the most urgent Affordable Care Act news and resources. By “soon,” you can think “end of this very week.”

Also in the hopper related to the Affordable Care Act is a webinar featuring our excellent Kelli Ham, along with the ever knowledgeable Barbara Bibel, and another panelist from Covered California. The one-hour webinar is scheduled for noon, on Monday, September 9. Kelli, besides being a librarian at UCLA, is Infopeople’s link with the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Pacific Southwest Region. Barbara has been certified by the Medical Library Association and regularly provides training to public library staff around health and wellness materials.

As of Sunday, the independent online learning series Infopeople has hosted for UC Davis, titled Health and Wellness Competencies, has moved to Infopeople’s direct aegis.  Any generalist who wants to gain a better understanding of how to deliver health and wellness information to his or her library community, making use of best practices, can enroll in this six-module wholly asynchronous series by registering on the Infopeople training site. While this series does not address the Affordable Care Act, we have another series of independent online learning rolling out in September, titled Affordable Care Act @ Your California Library.

And speaking of independent online learning series, what had been called CORE 2: Subject Area Reference is now titled Subject Area Reference. We’ve returned its layout to that of a single strand with six modules, one evaluation and one certificate of completion.

With two fully developed independent online series already underway and a couple more in development, this is a good time to remind everyone that these series are low cost ($25 for Californian library staff, with free registration for rurals, and $50 for out of state participants). Each series is available for registration any time and each one runs all the time. A participant has two months to work at his or her own rate on any of the modules within the series for which he or she has registered.

Now, if you would like to receive such updates in breaking moment and perhaps more specifically concise way, here’s a reminder that you can follow Infopeople on Twitter (@infotweets), receive updates on Facebook by “liking” us there(facebook.com/infopeople.org), connecting your RSS feed to Infopeople’s home page, and/or making sure you are subscribing to this blog.



Let ’em Browse

Birds do it, bees do it, and I do it every morning. It’s what brought me to the brand new Hippie Gypsy coffee shop (because I did it online last night). Richard Feynman did it on the beach (and Leland Myrick depicts that perfectly in his and Jim Ottaviani’s new biography).

Browsing: it’s that wonder-producing, only semi-directed activity that helps us find the obscure, enjoy the unexpected, and even discover that what we thought were disparate ideas or tastes could actually be connected by us to make wholes greater than the sums of their parts. Laura Larsell discusses this eloquently, so go to Mashable right now and–after you’ve browsed it–consider the ways your library staff might be energized by opportunities to browse on the job:

  • They could become more comfortable readers’ advisors for browsing the stacks instead of just the new book shelves
  • They might locate the perfect (and free!) online resource for that perennial, thorn-in-the-side-of-a-necessarily-limited-book-collection homework assignment
  • They could rediscover values that first brought them together and thus give them the opportunity to communicate well on the job

How can you help browsers to feel satisfied instead of overwhelmed? While birds and bees are “wired” to favor appropriate colors and scents (to say nothing of mates), Mary, at the Hippie Gypsy, puts out a specials board so newcomers won’t be turned off by the length and possibilities her menu suggests. In libraryland, that translates to displays, online discovery overlays for the catalog, and events we plan to encourage users to focus on specific parts of our collections and services.

So mix it up: let ’em browse as well as pointing out what you think might be the most expeditious way of getting to what they want.

Great podcast with Sarah Houghton-Jan

I know, I’m usually plugging an Infopeople podcast, but today I’m plugging this great interview on T Is for Training with our own (well, she’s her own person, but we love her) Sarah Houghton-Jan aka the Librarian in Black. Sarah has a new book coming out, and is also going to be teaching a new online course for Infopeople (check out the description and sign up here). Sarah has lots of hopeful words for libraries and good advice for keeping up with new stuff – oh, and figuring out how to find a balance between work life and home life.

Suzanne Merritt, Creativity, and Solving Workplace Problems

Overcoming challenges in the library workplace involves a mixture of creativity and fun, Suzanne Merritt suggests in her new full-day Infopeople “Building Leadership Skills: Stimulating Creativity” workshop sessions being offered in libraries throughout California from April 10-24, 2009.

“I think the important thing that people will come away with is a boost in their own confidence, in their creative abilities, and that they can apply that in any area of leadership,” she predicted in a conversation earlier this week. “I feel it is important for anyone in a leadership role not only to have a boost in their own creative confidence, but to pass that along and encourage to those they lead to believe in their creative abilities as well. Together they can solve any problem that comes along.”

Merritt is no stranger to the topic of how creativity helps improve the workplace and produce results. Through the work she does through her own company, Ideas With Merritt, she provides participants with tools and skills which translate inspiration into workplace innovation on a daily basis. These skills are divided into three interrelated elements: collecting experiences, connecting those experiences to the workplace, and creating growth by generating, judging, and refining ideas.

“Every human being is creative,” she notes. “Our creative contributions matter. As leaders, part of our job is to bring out our own creative potential and bring that out in the people that work with us. When we do that, people have fun…When people have fun, they are creative. Everything’s so serious right now; it’s a great time to revitalize your own creative energy.”

Material presented during the Infopeople workshop is designed to help library leaders and others—including library business managers, public information officers, systems staff, facilities managers, and volunteers—find creative solutions for handling the increasing workload they face, attracting new audiences and funding sources, and restructuring existing services.

She will introduce participants to her own model, the C.U.R.I.O.S.I.T.Y. model, in which each letter in the term “stands for something specific that people can look for in the world around them to look for sources of inspiration.”

“I don’t want to be listed as one of those ‘these are dire times’ speakers. This is about possibility and positive energy, and having some fun while you do your work,” she concluded.

The workshop is the latest offering in Infopeople’s multi-stage Eureka! Leadership Program with its “Building Leadership Skills” series, and it will remain available as a contract workshop through Infopeople for those who are not able to attend the currently scheduled sessions. Registration ($75 per person) for all remaining “Building Leadership Skills” sessions is continuing on the Infopeople website. Instructors include Stacey Aldrich and Marie Radford.

Sessions of “Building Leadership Skills: Stimulating Creativity” are currently scheduled for Arden-Dimick Library in Sacramento (4/10/2009); San Diego County Library Headquarters (4/13/2009); Buena Park Library District (4/16/2009); Fresno–Woodward Park (4/20/2009); San Jose Martin Luther King, Jr. Library (4/22/2009); and San Francisco Public Library—Latino/Hispanic Community Meeting Room (4/24/2009).

Fully Engaged

The challenge, when you love everything you promote, is to draw attention to something which stands out above all the other great offerings. One of those “special children” for those of us working with Infopeople is Cheryl Gould’s latest offering, “Fully Engaged Customer Service,” so Infopeople is offering it at a 50 percent discount to any library willing to book a contract offering at $1,000 per day.
Here’s how Infopeople Project Director Holly Hinman has described it to library directors throughout the state:
“At first glance, you may think that this is ‘just another’ customer service workshop, but it’s not. This workshop comes out of an LSTA grant project in which the Silicon Valley Library System/San Jose Public Library hired Infopeople to develop a new, highly experiential and interactive customer service training program based on recommendations from the Envirosell study of customer service in San Jose and Hayward branches. ‘Fully Engaged Customer Service’ employs an almost continuous series of short, intense exercises that give participants the experience of real-life customer interactions and practice in good customer service behaviors. In other words, this workshop doesn’t just ‘talk the talk,’ it ‘walks the walk.’
“This workshop has proven results, as documented by a series of studies by Godbe Research. Amelia Davidson of Godbe Research says that ‘Godbe Research found the training to be highly effective in teaching library staff to be more proactive in approaching customers, to be more inquisitive with customers about their needs in order to ensure that barriers are overcome, and to use interactions to teach customers about the full range of services offered by the library. Based on the results of our studies, we give the training our strongest recommendation.
“’The customer service training program developed by Infopeople has had a significant and sustained effect on the quality of library staff’s interactions with patrons. Following the training, library staff were found to initiate four times as many interactions with customers. The training also was found to have a significant effect on performance ratings collected in the study. Specifically, the training significantly improved the performance of library staff in the following areas: eye-contact, facial expression, availability to patrons, assessment of patron needs, quality of information provided to patrons, and the outcome of the interaction. Moreover, these improvements were sustained from the immediate, post-training assessment to the follow-up assessment that occurred one month after training. In addition to these objective performance measures, the training was also found to have a significant effect on the attitudes of library staff toward customer service and patron interactions.'”
Those interested in scheduling this as a contract workshop for their library or system can contact Gini Ambrosino (gini@infopeople.org). Those interested in attending currently scheduled sessions (Alameda County Library – Fremont, 2/9/2009; San Francisco Public Library, 2/19/2009; Buena Park Library District, 3/17/2009; and San Diego County Library Headquarters, 3/18/2009) will find registration continuing on the Infopeople website at a cost of $75 per participant.