This morning I had the pleasure to speak to a group at the NCLA conference and their questions afterwards were both numerous and familiar. However, I did field one question among the bunch that surprisingly within the last year I have not gotten before. A young librarian in the back asked “What was your rational for allowing non-public service staff to participate in the program and get a MP3 player?”
For a moment the question took me back a bit (perhaps it was the phrasing or the tone). But to me it seemed to imply that libraries have two classes of personal; those up front who work with the public and those in the back who do all the other stuff.
I've encountered this divisional attitude many times in libraries before and to be honest, it irritates me. Everyone in libraries works for “the customer.” In reality we’re all “public services!” regardless of how many steps or doors are between us and the customer. Anyway, nuff said on this front. That's for another post. To end, I'll just share with you my response...
“ Since the program was both voluntary and optional for staff to participate in, and provided a reward, it was important that it not be discriminatory. Besides, it’s not only those that work with the public that need to be familiar with these new tools. In our library system we’ve also incorporated many of these tools in our staff communication on our intranet. For example, our system wide strategic plan is available for all staff via a wiki and many departments use blogs for communication. With this in mind, it would be shortsighted to only think that public service staff could benefit from the program. Everyone who works in libraries should be given the opportunity to learn.”
PS: For those in attendance, my presentation slides are here (sorry the “rocky” montage doesn’t work in Slideshare).
As libraries we should be a model of information literacy and really set an example for the rest of the workforce. In that sense it is important to offer learning and development opportunities for everyone.
Giving everyone a chance to "play" shows how much an organization values its employees...all of its employees. Done consistently, this investment pays off with highly motivated employees who have greater job satisfaction. The library benefits with longer retention of employees. It's a win/win for everyone!
The best example I can give of this is shortly after a core competencies training session one of our maintenance staff came to me and said that before she felt that people only saw her as someone who takes out the trash. But now she feels like the library and other staff really see her as a person who is capable of much more. By the time we got to Learning 2.0 she was one of the most dedicated staff members and it was amazing to watch her skills develop over the few weeks that it took for her to complete the program.
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