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!

[1] "The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993"  U.S. Department of   Labor. 19 October 2007>
[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.

Blogs/Websites to Watch

  • Memphis Public Library & Information Center - Staff Development Lists the trainings we offer for our staff. Some training titles are links to the actual training documents.
  • Memphis Public Library & Information Center - MPLIC Tech Train (Technical Trainer Blog)
  • Memphis Public Library & Information Center - MPLIC Tech Train Wikified (Technical Trainer Wiki)
  • Antioch New England Graduate School Library Training Wiki for Front Desk Staff.
  • Pierce County Library's Social Web Literacy class blog blog for popular social networking class offered to all staff

Specific Blog Posts/Articles to Check Out

  • Lister, Pauline & Hill, Dorothy "What's Next?:job enhancement through a shadowing up program" (2005)
  • MLA (UK) ICT Training Report: "Competencies & capabilities: new paradigms for workforce development in the 21st Century Library" (2004)
  • MLA (UK) Workforce Development Strategy: "Learning for change: workforce development strategy (Summary)" (2004)
  • Building a Social Library
  • Cultivating Tech-Savvy Library Staff An Internet Librarian 2006 PPT by Sarah Houghton-Jan (Librarian in Black)
  • Library Technical Competencies: What Do We Have? What Do We Teach? What Do I Hire? A small library perspective
  • 10 Ways to make your library great in 2008 using Web 2.0 A post-Webinar Blog on Webjunction.