10 Tips for Training in Tough Times



Libraries across the country are being impacted by the economy. Staff are being laid off. Doors are being locked as libraries close or reduce hours. As we face this new reality, how does this impact our roles as trainers/teachers/learners? What can we do to not only support our organizations but secure training’s place within our organizations? Here are ten ideas for you to consider.

  1. Alignment. Align training with strategic priorities. If ever there was a time to tighten the training belt it is now. Do you know what your library’s strategic priorities are? If not, ask. Make sure that all of your training supports those outcomes and priorities for your library.
  2. Attitude. Set a good example. Employees often look at trainers as role models for the organization. Doom and gloom do not do anyone a bit of good. Lead by example. Look for the silver lining that exists and embrace this time as an opportunity for growth and change. Be flexible and willing to do things that may fall outside of your normal realm.
  3. Network and Collaboration. Look for ways to collaborate with other trainers. There are trainers across the country who are ready and willing to share and trade training materials. If you need a handout on the fly try posting to an email list. Or you might decide to create a more formal training exchange with a sister library.
  4. Webinars. ALA Learning will soon be announcing a new resource for sharing training and learning opportunities. Many of these events are free. Better yet many are online and require no travel. Publicize these events to your staff.
  5. Outcomes. Think in terms of outcomes rather than trainings. What outcome or result are you looking for? What problem are you trying to address? Once you’ve determined your outcome then you can determine if training is the best way to reach that outcome (in many cases it’s not). Don’t invest time and resources in training that’s not needed.
  6. Free. Look for free authoring tools. Do a search for “free elearning tools” and you will find lots of great articles. Like this one and this one from our own Jay Turner. With her budget cut to nearly 70% Sue-Minton Colvin, training and development coordinator for Lexington Public Library turned to e-learning. Not already having an established platform, Colvin created an entire training intranet using Shutterfly. Yes, you read that right, Shutterfly. I never even realized you could create a Web site using Shutterfly! Talk about using your resources!
  7. Social Learning. On her Web site Ageless Learner, Marcia Conner says that, “Informal learning accounts for more than 75% of learning that takes place in organizations today.” Embrace the power of Web 2.0 tools such as blogs, wikis, Facebook, and Twitter to facilitate informal learning. Host a discussion. Host a chat. The sky is the limit and we are only on the verge of utilizing these tools fully in learning and staff development.
  8. Visibility. Be visible in your organization. When you work primarily behind the scenes, it’s easy to stay holed up in your office. Get out and talk to staff. Find out what’s going on. Let them know what’s going on with training. Listen with empathy and remember tip #2.
  9. Better With Less. Instead of focusing on how we are doing more with less, focus on the opportunity to do better with less. As I said in tip #1, this blip in the radar gives us a chance to focus on the basics, rethink our training strategies, and truly show an impact on the organizations we serve. Staff training in the library is very different from public training. We are here primarily to improve the performance of staff within libraries so that they can better serve our customers.
  10. Don’t stop. No matter how tight the budget is, it’s a huge mistake for any organization to stop training completely. As the economy ebbs and flows it is crucial that libraries and our staff learn to go with that flow. Only through continuous learning can we keep our workforce’s skills up to date and prepare our employees for the changes that will no doubt take place in organizations.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas about training in tough times. Please comment on this post to continue the discussion!

Lori Reed, managing editor of ALA Learning, is the learning & development coordinator (and mayor 🙂 ) for the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library. She also blogs at http://lorireed.com.

Wiki Who: What Web 2.0 Can Do For You (and Your Learners)

Here is a copy of the slides I used for tonight’s ASTD Charlotte presentation on libraries, Learning 2.0, and Web 2.0. I spent hours and hours searching for just the right images to get the message across with out limited bullet points.

Here’s a tip. Everytime you come across an image that you think you might be able to use one day for a presentation–tag it, bookmark it, or mark it as a Favorite. It’s nice to have a selection ready to choose from. The quality and range of photos on Flickr with a creative commons license is astounding.

p.s. Thank you Helene and Kevin for sharing.

Bill to Ban Facebook in Libraries

When I was about 8-years-old I was walking home from my bus stop after school and a car stopped beside me. A man opened the door and offered me candy. In my mind I knew better, but like a typical kid I wanted the candy and walked towards the car. As I approached the car the door opened, and the man reached his hand out to grab me.

Does this sound like an urban legend?

It might, but it did actually happen to me. Luckily my parents had taught me stranger-danger. That and I was also a pretty tough kid. I slammed the car door (I think I may have crushed his hand), and ran home. If things had gone differently I may not be here tonight typing this post. I get chills thinking about it–especially now that I am a mom.

I am living proof that stranger-danger is real, but you don’t need me to tell you that. The news inundates us with stories of stranger-danger even though statistics tell us that most offenses to children are committed by someone who is not a stranger but is in fact someone close to the child.

What I am really here to say is that it’s important to educate children so that they can make smart decisions in any circumstance.

From USA Today:

Congress is considering a bill that would bar children who use computers in public libraries from accessing Facebook and other social networking websites without parental permission.

This has to be one of the most ridiculous things I’ve heard recently.

First, how will we define “other social networking websites” when pretty much every site is becoming a social networking site? Has anyone in Congress heard of Web 2.0?

Second, how does this teach children to think for themselves and make smart choices? We cannot block every site where a predator could be lurking just as we cannot place children in a bubble when we send them out the door to school every day.

As librarians and library staff we have to advocate for educating our public officials, the media, parents, and children about the real dangers of the Internet – ignorance.

If you haven’t yet take a look at the ALA Libraries & the Internet Toolkit. Most of the content is dated 2003, but it is still relevant.