Cedar Rapids Public Library - Staff training on public databases

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We subscribe to quite a few really wonderful databases, but unfortunately there isn't a great deal of management support at this time for increasing the budget for online resources. Some of the reference staff was concerned about the possibility that we might lose our existing subscriptions if we couldn't make them more vital to the public. We figured the first thing we needed to do was make sure the staff understood how to use the databases so they would be better able to help patrons who want to use them, but more importantly, so they would understand the situations when they should point patrons in the direction of the databases for help solving their problems and answering their questions.

To this end, we decided to promote a different database each month. For each database, we set up at least four sessions for staff training. Training sessions were identical; the only variable was that they were offered at different times and on different days to accommodate as many staff schedules as possible. The most important thing about these training sessions was their brevity. We wanted to get as many staff to come as we coule, so we tried to pack a lot of really good information into short 20-minute sessions; and we tried to make them exciting. We had handouts, posters, bookmarks, and used the computer in our training room to demonstrate how to get to the databases and best ways to use them.

Another "oh wow!" idea (and this was, of course, too obvious - but hadn't been done before) was that we had our cataloger create catalog entries for the databases so users don't necessarily have to fish around at our Web site to find our research links, but can just type in the name of the database in the catalog and get a catalog entry compete with live URL.

After our first set of training sessions, which were for the Learning Express database and the Vocational Biographies database, I also did some outreach training for the local school district's media specialists and guidance counselors and made some of our promotional materials available to them. If you'd like to see examples of our posters and cheat sheets for these two databases, please check out this link: I have loaded some of our materials at the Web page for a local library consortium, the Linn County Library Consortium.

If you have any interest in seeing the internal promotional materials (including bookmarks and outlines of training sessions) for these two databases, or for Hoovers or Ebsco's Auto Repair Reference Center, please email me at jo@jpearson.info. These are the sessions we have completed to date.