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Online learning helps library staff across the state keep skills sharp

cropped image001Written by guest blogger, Adrienne Doman Calkins, CE/Training Intern, Washington State Library, Library Development

Library staff have questions too. Lots of them. Like: How can I best implement eReader training at my library? What are the current trends in library programming? How can I improve our website? What training materials already exist to help me train my new staff? How can I best help my community with digital literacy skills? I want to brush up on my communication skills, but how can I from a remote area with few training opportunities. How can I learn about project management with my busy schedule?

Most importantly, library staff want to know how to keep their skills current to best serve their evolving communities.

The Washington State Library sponsors online learning for library staff across all 71,000+ square miles of the state through a statewide membership to WebJunction, an online learning community designed specifically for library staff. Washington is one of 18 states partnering with WebJunction to offer sponsored access to online courses and webinars for library staff. While WebJunction has a national presence, it is also a local organization based in Seattle, Washington, since 2003. Washington library staff benefit from WebJunction’s connections to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the parent company to WebJunction, OCLC.

If you’ve used WebJunction in years past, look again. The newly redesigned WebJunction website is easier to navigate and offers more resources.

Library staff across Washington are getting value out of the WSL partnership with WebJunction:image003

  • 700 courses were taken in 2012
  • 527 registered users attended 24 different live webinars in 2012
  • Library staff from 30 different libraries registered for courses in 2012
  • 561 Washington library staff are currently registered as WebJunction Washington members.
  • With current membership, courses cost WSL about $22 each. That price gets lower the more members join and take courses. The current contract pays for over 3,600 library staff to join WebJunction.
  • WebJunction content is available 24/7 to library staff wherever they have an internet connection, making it a great resource for rural library staff, who may not be able to attend offsite trainings as easily, or any staff who need to be as efficient as possible with their time.
  • New content is constantly being added to WebJunction. Upcoming webinars can be found on www.webjunction.org, or look on the Washington Partner page to see these and links to WSL’s First Tuesday webinars. Can’t make the date? Past webinars are accessible as archives, as well. New courses will soon be available in video format when WebJunction adds Lynda.com trainings to their course catalog, increasing the software, business and creative offerings sponsored by WSL. Note: access to Lynda.com trainings will be limited, so registered staff should look for the invitation via email soon.
  • Washington library staff can create a free account on the WebJunction site. Sponsored access will be approved by WSL and WebJunction within 48 hours.

Some WebJunction users are really taking advantage of the resources. One power-user, Keyla Gonzalez, a Circulation Clerk 2 from Bellingham Public Library, took 25 courses in 2012. She has built an impressive list of skills using WebJunction: “I have learned cultural communication styles, how to reach out to our non-English speaking patrons and how to better equip myself to be more helpful when answering patron’s requests.” What does Keyla appreciation about the WSL sponsored access to WebJunction? “I love that I can use my own time and finish my course load at my own pace. If there’s a course that is strenuous I know I can go back and re-do it however many times I want. Mostly I love that it is accessible at any time and it is free!”
WebJunction WebinarsAnother important role in online learning is the WebJunction champion—that person who encourages staff to take courses and attend webinars. Some champions are peers, others are trainers, administrators, managers or supervisors. All of them know access to online learning is only part of the solution to help staff keep their skills sharp. The other part is creating a culture that prioritizes learning and gives staff the time, space and resources to participate in online training opportunities.

One such champion is Patricia Chupa, Circulation Supervisor at the Shelton Timberland Library. Pat, as her staff know her, has built just such a culture in her department. She incorporates online learning into the goals her staff make during annual performance evaluations and goes on to make a contract with her staff: if they “partner with one another to get the materials handling work done in a timely fashion,” then they are guaranteed “protected time to do their courses” and staff help cover for each other by negotiating the best time for trainings. Has the effort paid off? Pat is proud to report “the professional approach to their customer service has improved across the team, and that has readily been demonstrated in the level of satisfaction we see and hear from our patrons.”

The WebJunction Washington partner resources are managed by the Washington State Library, with input from a state-wide WebJunction Washington Advisory Team made up of members from public, academic, and special libraries across the state. It’s the sponsored learners, though, that make WebJunction resources come alive as library staff interact with library patrons with skills learned through this state-sponsored resource.



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One Response to “Online learning helps library staff across the state keep skills sharp”

  1. Ereading training can be super awesome to the students to kick butt and start reading.