Anyone who knows me, knows one of my perennial soapboxes is that librarians need to stay current with changing technology trends, which probably most of the people who read or post to this blog do. However, there are a whole bunch of librarians who once employed do not receive any further technology training or professional development in an organised, methodical fashion. (You can tell I’m not manager eh?) The people I’m especially thinking of are those who might have been in the same job for 10 or more years.
Some librarians might argue that they don’t need technology training. But just have think about it: if you use Microsoft Office applications, they have changed quite dramatically from 2003 to 2007 versions. What about the features of some web browsers. They’re constantly coming out with new versions, and that’s just the tip of the ice berg. What about physical technology like printers, and scanners? And I’m not just talking about learning about technology in order to help our patrons, but to advance ourselves professionally.
Granted there will be different requirements for different library roles.But i do not think we can assume that people will just ‘pick it up’. There are a lot of librarians out there who struggle with (relatively) simple things like commenting on blog posts. I’m not saying we should judge these librarians at all, but help them.
To this end, I’ve been reading a book called, “Technology Training in Libraries”, by Sarah Houghton-Jan (2010). New York: Neal-Schuman.
It is a very good book, clear and straightforward, talking about how to devise and plan technology training for library staff.
She lists essential technology skills, from basic office equipment to standard computer applications, then moves on to Web 2.0 stuff, then areas of future growth, one of which I’d never heard of, ‘surface computing‘.
Things that struck me as i read it were:
There are tech mules: people in your workplace who shoulder the burden of being the go-to person if a problem arises usually when it is not their proper job. Technology training will help level the playing field.
Keep things task-based rather than descriptive, eg: can you archive old emails, not do you know the email system?
Technology skills also come in different levels and not everyone needs the same levels but there should be a clearly articulated minimum level of competence and understanding.
Similar to this is a technology pyramid where necessary skills are at the bottom and at the higher level, skills that are less so.
And finally terminology. We don’t necessarily need to know everything, but it helps if we can at least recognise what the terms are.
In fact, I’m thinking of writing a pop quiz, a Q and A of useful techie terminology. That would be fun and educational too! Librarians love a quiz.
Anyway, does your workplace have a clearly articulated technology training plan for library staff?