Staff Training

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Tips for Training Library Staff

Tips for Floating Librarians

    Many library systems employ floaters- people who do not work at a specific location, but "float" around from library to library and fill in for  a short-handed staff.  This is especially true as more and more workers take advantage of the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 [1].  Listed below are a few tips for current floaters or would-be floaters interested in some of the challenges of the position:

  •  Make sure your transportation is safe and reliable.  It may be possible that some floaters must supply their own transportation from location to location.  Inquire with your employer if it is possible to take a company vehicle when on location if the need to travel arrives, and mark your mileage for possible compensation.
  • If floating a position that has contacts with patrons, never assume a patron knows what they want to find, or that you know what they want! [2]  Ask them questions to dig out the answer.
  • Become very familiar with the procedures of your institution, as these will act as a guide for you to follow at the various locations you may be visiting [2].  Also, make personal notes of any idiosyncrasies from location to location, and try to respect them.  After all, you're a guest worker!
  • Don't get involved with work politics.  You will have to work with a wide range of people, and it's best not to burn bridges.
  • Being a floater is a continual learning experience [3].  Keep your mind open and be prepared to learn throughout your time as a floater.
  • Become familiar with the physical locations of where you work (the stacks, bathrooms, and important building nearby, such as post offices).
  • Have fun!

Citations:
[1] "The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993"  U.S. Department of   Labor. 19 October 2007   http://www.dol.gov/esa/regs/statutes/whd/fmla.htm>
[2] Norman, Amy. Reference Librarian, Tulsa Community College. Personal interview. 19 October 2007.
[3] Smith, Jason. MLIS student and reference worker. Tulsa Community College. Personal interview. 19 October 2007.

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