Training and Technology

Internet Librarian 2006

Technology Competencies: A path to training
Sarah Houghton-Jan

Competencies should be a list of things that staff need to do in order to do their jobs, not well but at all. If your library is adding new technologies to the workplace or is lacking a coordinated training effort, you need competencies.

Selling the project to admin:

  • It helps with job descriptions
  • Evaluations
  • Reveals training needs in staff and gap patterns
  • Addresses feelings of inadequacy – the person always having to solve the problems and the person who never knows the answer
  • Helps staff adjust to change

Create a purpose – why are we doing this? This will guide the project and help explain the project to staff, to governing bodies, and to the community you serve.

10 questions to answer before starting

  • Who does the work?: A team? A person?
  • Who identifies the competencies?
  • Tech competencies or all competencies?
  • Core list or extensive?
  • Do you have a timeline or a goal?
  • What constitutes technology? Phone, fax, cash register, computer?
  • Are they specific to the hardware/software you have now or generic so they can evolve?
  • Essential skills and extended skills. One or both?
  • Based on the skills on classification, pay step, location?
  • Based on full time/ PT or a desire for promotions or bonus?

These last two are not recommended because they will create an unequal stratified service that is offered to users depending on what kind of staff they encounter. [Competencies should create good customer service across the board, not exacerbate an existing problem of unequal service.]

Categories of competencies can be very specific or they can be very general. The format the competencies take should mach the needs of your library. They can be put into prose, outline, or a grid format. The simpler the format, the easier it is for staff to use! If you use the web to distribute the competencies, you can hyperlink to tutorials for different competencies.


  • Beware of subjunctive adjectives (ex. very)
  • Self assessments have three choices: yes, no, maybe
  • Provide a tech terms glossary
  • All new hires should complete the assessment

[As an instruction librarian, I believe strongly in competencies and outcomes. In order to plan effectively for training, there must be outcomes for the session. A goal must be set. As a librarian in general, I want to be evaluated against a fair set of competencies to which every member of my organization will be held. This is only fair that we should all be judges according to the same scale.]
Slides on LiB

10 Ways to Keep Techies Happy
or How to keep techies once you have hired them

David Lee King

Number 1: techies are part of the team too

Techies should be involved in planning groups. Let them research the techie stuff on the project.

Number 2: toys, gadgets, and server playgrounds
Many techies consider playing with toys as part of their jobs. Let the techies test drive new things first and then they can help others learn. Create time to play. [This is important and I think it gets lost in an endless list of duties that leaves no time for innovation. Staff can not create things if they have no time.]

Number 3: do your part
Do not assume it’s a techie task just because it is on the computer. David tells a story about he was asked to move a computer from one desk to another because he was a “techie.” We can all plug things in. Non-techies should learn the basics – and these are always changing. Don’t waste out time.

Number 4: a healthy workplace
David says this is the most important slide. Fighting between staff and IT department can cause problems for your organization. For example, combating the culture of no. Change management starts with you.

Number 5: training – them and you
Give your techies time for conferences, seminars, classes. Budget for books, white papers, etc. Train EVERYONE [emphasis in the slide]
Ex. Brown bag lunches on training for specific tasks like how to use a USB drive
You could create a learning challenge for staff and reward those that complete it.
Anything your customers ask, you should know (refer to #3)

Number 6: adequate staffing/project balance
Branch staffing v web staffing – digital branches should be staffed as any other branch [Oh, Amen] Your library needs to decide what the ratio is to 1 person to how many PCs or staff members? Carefully consider how many techies v how many projects v time for each project.

Number 7: Tell them when you do not get it
Do not pretend to be a know it all. Do not let your lack of knowledge be a scapegoat

Number 8: pay them well
Actual pay – you should pay them adequately so they will stay and give them time off for overtime.

Number 9: budget appropriately
New techie project costs should be built into your techie budget.

Number 10: we’re all geeks

We are all experts in the little part of the library in which we operate.

Together we can collaborate and build something better.

–Jane, two heads are better then one