Yesterday, I was the trainer, but today, all morning I was the trainee.
I work at a SWAN member library in the suburbs outside of Chicago, and I think we have one of the best shared catalogs in the country. I feel like I have a right to say this because I actually do travel all over the country and work with other libraries, so I know what is out there. Our resource sharing rocks!
Now it seems that our actual catalog interface is going to be as superlative as our resource sharing. And that is what I sat in on today.
Specifically, I was being trained on using Enterprise, the OPAC for our new SirsiDynix catalog. But I realize what I learned is only useful to those of you in SWAN and this blog is for everyone who serves leisure readers. Don’t worry, I have a point to make that is relevant to everyone.
I want to talk about this huge project of migrating a catalog with over 1 million registered users. Obviously this involves training...massive training. But it also relies on a forward thinking organization to prepare for the training.
Let me get specific. Way in advance of the migration (which by the way happens in less than 6 weeks...yikes), one of my colleagues on the ARRT Steering Committee, Rebecca, left her more traditional RA job at an area public library, to go handle “special projects” for SWAN.
I remember talking to her at length when she first made the switch about the opportunities for reaching out more to the front line staff when the migration would happen (at that time it still felt so very far away). Over lunch we were discussing how, when it comes to catalog migrations, most of the time is spent training the tech services and circulation staffs. Now this makes sense. I am not even slightly arguing for these people to NOT get the most attention, but often, those of us helping patrons to navigate the new catalog, are left to fend for ourselves and figure it all out by trial and error.
Well, not SWAN. They thought ahead and hired Rebecca because of her ability to help front line staff assist patrons. And today, I got to reap the benefits of their foresight. Rebecca’s lead in training front line staff was evident in her and her cohort’s presentation. It was not only that she knew what we wanted to see the new catalog do, but she also showed us areas where it could NOT do what we needed yet. However, because she is an employee of SWAN, this was not just a complaint. She could tell us what wasn’t working yet, and knows that these concerns and issues have been reported and explained to SirsiDynix. We have one of us speaking to the people who can make the changes we need. I cannot express how much more confident I feel about the migration after leaving Rebecca’s training.
As a trainer, this got me thinking about training for library staff in general. So much of the success of training depends on who is in charge of said training. We need more administrators thinking like SWAN was when they hired Rebecca. Yes we need staff with new ideas and new energy, but we also need to make sure people are trained to help our patrons. I feel ready to help patrons now.
New ideas, new services...they are all great for our patrons, but without identifying the right trainers, the new will not be fully realized. So as we think about starting new services for our leisure readers, let’s remember to train all the staff who will be involved (even those who are not the primary providers) and let’s train the patrons too.
Whole library RA training should be the new frontier in our service to leisure readers. I already do this a little, but I will be exploring this topic more in the coming months here on the blog.
As I go through this migration, I am excited to both learn how to use the new catalog AND also to find new ideas on how to be a better trainer. All for the goal of creating better service to patrons!