Category Archives: Technology Training Rocks!

Training with the Branch Heads (Library Administrators Please Read)

I am a tech trainer librarian at heart folks. Probably always will be. Those moments of turning people on to new ways to get information or do their jobs when the “AHA” sparks in their eyes. Yes indeed.

Yesterday I did a 2 hour session for our branch librarians at the request of their supervisor — the Coordinator of Extension Sevices at SJCPL who consistently rocks my world with her forward thinking and insight. She IMs. She reads a whole bunch of LIS Blogs via RSS and comments on posts with me time to time. She has an iPod! She uses FIREFOX!

Anyway, this time she requested a general “how to post to the library blog session” and an RSS session because she really wants her heads to be “in the know.” Even if the librarians are not consistently posting to the SJCPL Lifeline, Nancy wanted them to undertsand the process and how it all works. (How many of you have had this encouragement and opportunity? Have you taken advantage of it if you have?)

We zipped through the blogging portion pretty quickly because they were quick to catch on. We went through some RSS basics and this time I demonstrated Bloglines. After they subscribed to a few feeds we had extra time, so I asked if they wanted to see a couple of other new things.

We took a look at flickr and I defined folksonomy for them and then, at Nancy’s urging, we touched on podcasting. I showed them Greg’s blog and podcasts and Karen’s freeverse post. With the speakers up high in the training room, we played Karen’s full podcast and used it as a discussion point: what is SJCPL doing with some of the TTTs? Did they know what bthey all were? What have the branch heads encountered in their libraries — portable storage,etc.

What an incredible way to get people talking and pondering what a library might be doing or planning to do. Have a staff meeting coming up? Play that post and ask your librarians how they feel about the TTTs… what they know about…what they don’t..

So the jist of this post is: Adminstrators: look for teaching/learning opportunities for your librarians and encourage them. Lead by example as well! A plugged-in, “in the know” adminstrator can really sell new technologies and plans to the staff. And don’t be fooled — if you are afraid of your computer – your staff knows it! Keep on top of the Top Technology trends and look for cool ways to illustrate them and educate your staff – Thanks for the inspiration Karen!

Defining Information Literacy

Via the Information Literacy Weblog: “CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals) Council has officially approved the definition of Information Literacy produced by a CILIP working group:”

Information literacy is knowing when and why you need information, where to find it, and how to evaluate, use and communicate it in an ethical manner.

This definition implies several skills. We believe that the skills (or competencies) that are required to be information literate require an understanding of:

a need for information
the resources available
how to find information
the need to evaluate results
how to work with or exploit results
ethics and responsibility of use
how to communicate or share your findings
how to manage your findings.

Good Stuff! I’d make this the foundation of a library staff Info Lit training program.

Teaching RSS to Reference Librarians

Someone who saw the presentation on Teaching Weblogs Steven and I did at IL2004 wrote this to me:

I’m new to the public library world? — I’ve been trying to get folks excited about the possibilities of RSS & XML. The problem was that?I didn’t have a lot of concrete examples of how public libraries could use these tools, and I’m not techie enough to implement things on my own (yet).?Now I’m really psyched. I had no idea that public?librarians were doing?such?fantastic things. I was bouncing off the walls after I attended the RSS and blogging sessions at IL2004. Anyway, when you do teach blogs &?RSS?to library staff, which?feeds?get?staff the?most excited? In particular, I’m interested in the feeds like ResourceShelf that even the stoggiest librarian will see as an excellent use of his/her time. Do you have any feeds you would strongly recommend to use in a demo to reference librarains at a public library?(beyond ResourceShelf, and maybe NYTimes)?
Yes! Public Librarians are doing incredible things with RSS on their Web sites. I am constantly tickled to see more libraries offering their new and important content this way.

I have done a bunch of Intro RSS training sessions for the librarians at SJCPL. Here’s a breakdown of the class design:


Reference Librarians, Managers, Administration: All need to know for different reasons as well as staying in the know. I also tell them it’s a great way to know what new things might becoming our way AND folks that use RSS can speak up in meetings with ease: “SFPL is implmenting RFID and …”


Librarians will understand the basics of what RSS is and how it works.
Librarians will locate and subscribe to feeds of interest via various web sites.

Useful Resources:
Free Range Librarian’s RSS Category
Steven Cohen and Jenny Levine’s RSS PPT
What is RSS and Why Should I care?


We did the training in the SJCPL Technology Training Room.

To get them excited, we looked at the feeds available at:

BBC News
USA Today
Yahoo News Feeds

And I told them to look for feeds that they were interested in. Not library-related necessarily, but something to show them how cool it can be. We were using NetNewsWire, a program for the Mac that has simple ease of use and a fun interface.


Using these directories:


Library Weblogs ( – Peter Scott?s directory of LIS Weblogs ( -LIS Weblog author Amanda Etches-Johnson?s list of LIS Weblogs

The Internet Courses: Weblogs ( – Dr. Laurel Clyde?s directory related to her work with LIS Weblogs


Librarians will locate feeds they are interested in. They can pick and choose from all. They were to report back with a list of feeds they were reading and send me a sample of a post they liked!

Here Here

Read. This. Now.

It should be the goal of staff technology trainer to get all library workers well versed in the basics of library projects. Patrons should not be met with blank stares if they ask a shelver about a library?s screen name or new self checkout terminal. It is likely unrealistic to be able to meet with every single library employee, but it shouldn?t be unrealistic to get all employees to check a staff blog. walking paper

TC Librarians have RSS & More Training

Jeff up in TC reports that not only is wifi doing well at TADL, but “tomorrow’s reference staff meeting, my co-worker and i are doing a 15 minute intro on, rss+aggregation, cool librarians that blog, and wikis. crazy sampler of “let us know if you’d like us to do sessions on any of this stuff…” AND they will be using wifi to do it!!! (yet another chance to educate!)

EVERY public library staff should be so lucky!

Attention Tech trainers: have you taught all of your librarians about blogs, RSS and the cool stuff going on with collabortation? If not… ponder doing it soon!

Technology Training Questions for Public Librarians

Goodness! I love emails like this one:

Hi–I’m the Technology Training and Website Supervisor at ______ Public Library. This is a new position for the library and for me, and I’m looking for contacts and gathering info. My questions include (but are not limited to–)

So I asked the person who wrote me if I could answer via my blog because maybe some other folks might find this stuff helpful. Here goes:

1. How many machines in your computer lab? How do you staff it? What software is available?

We have a lab of 15 computers that is only open to the public for classes. We do not open it for public hours. The public uses the 40+ Macs and PCs scattered around our building.

When classes are given, there are always two staff present to oversee the room and teach.

We also have two portable labs consisting of 8 wifi compatible Macs or ten wifi compatible PCs that can travel anywhere in our library system.

We have a standard software list on each: browsers, Microsoft suite, Filemaker, IM software, etc. The training room is filled with Macs — so all the hot Mac OS X software is on them.

2. What classes do you offer the public, and who teaches them? Anything that’s wildly popular?

Currently we offer a super-popular ?Senior Seminar? over five weeks for seniors who want to learn all about computer basics and Web stuff. We have searching classes, some special topics like ?Online Auctions? and ?Digital Camera? that I teach and that usually bring out a lot of folks. We just started Basic Computers and Internet in Spanish and a Word processing class.

When the fall class schedule goes up it will be here.

3. Are you responsible for training the staff on new software releases, circ system, phone system, etc., or do you mainly coordinate outside trainers?

We are pretty darn lucky here at SJCPL, our administration recognized the need for in house technology training back in 1997 and my department, Networked Resources Development and Training, has been doing all of the technology training since then, including all of the things you mention. Robert Lewandowski came to us from Purdue Unversity with a Masters in Instructional Technology. I cannot tell you how wonderful it is to have someone with his background working at SJCPL.

We also have a part time circulation function trainer, Adam Tarwacki (his band is here), who works with NRDT 20 hours and on the circ desk for another 20 each week. Having someone training circ staff who works in circ as well is a good thing!

4. How many people are directly responsible for your website (which is outstanding, by the way)?

Thanks! Our excellent graphics/web page developer Dale Kerkman takes all the stuff we throw at him and makes into what you see at I oversee the scope and mission of the Web site and we pull content in from all over the system. Our Marketing manager writes content for the Web and edits it with me.

5. Are there any conferences related to public library technology that you’d recommend?

What a cool question! Do your best to get to Computers in Libraries or Internet Librarian each year. (If you can swing more: LITA, PLA and ALA annual.) These conferences are perfect for the library tech person. And if you go, be prepared to bring back ideas and new stuff and work hard to turn your librarians and administrators on to the stuff. Too many times, folks traipse off to a library conference and take tons of notes (hopefully into their laptops or devices) that never see the light of day when they get back to work. I would hope libraries that spend money on folks to go to stuff make sure they are getting a good ROI on those trips.

And finally, I?ll do a shameless plug for Internet Librarian 2004 ? I?ll be co-hosting a community of Interest session Sunday November 14th for technology trainers with my SJCPL colleague and trainer Bob Lewandowski, Librarian, Blogger and Trainer Aaron Schmidt and Trainer/Blogger Michael Porter. We will be discussing questions just like these with whoever attends this informal gathering.

SLS TechSummit Class 5-19-04

Bob and I taught an afternoon session yesterday at the Surburban Library System headquarters for Jenny Levine. We had ten library folks from all different kinds of libraries in to talk about technology training. It was a blast! Bob and I play off each other well and I look forward to teaching with him again!

Jenny moblogged it here and here. Aaron worked the virtual Reference Desk and participated!

Our PPT is here!

Ten Tips for Technology Trainers in the Trenches

In honor of our program today at SLS, I’ve been pondering some trainer’s tips…

Be prepared! Prepare the training materials, such as updating notes, URLs and facts and remember how quickly things change in the technology world. Prepare the training space: set up computers, test equipment and test software. Get to know the room if it’s the first time you’ve been there.

Know your audience. Who are they? Plan for specific groups: Students, Faculty, Seniors, Novices or Teens. A class for seniors will be different than a class for your teen users. Check out all the stuff you can find about learning styles, presenting technology to various groups and successful program planning.

Know your training equipment. Understand the workings of the PC or Mac and the projector set up. Be wary of cool presentation technology JUST for the sake of technology. Your folks in class may just be confused about the sudden breakdown of a Bluetooth/USB/touch pad/smart board/wifi.MP3/whoosits in the middle of class.

But – don’t miss a chance to show off new technologies. Adding circulating MP3 players to your library? Host “Meet the MP3” night at your library and give folks a chance for hands on contact and time for questions. Do the same for a new wifi initiative. Use your wifi savvy staffer who can explain such technology to folks and bill it as “The WiFi Wonder” will be available for support and questions in the library computer lab on Wednesday night” — a darn nice thing to do to promote such a service.

Enjoy what you do! Have fun with teaching and bring your interests & life to the class. Do you collect Fiestaware gravy boats by buying on eBay? The group will love to hear about it. Enjoy training and don’t sweat the glitches with technology…it’ll always be something!

Rehearse and know your outline but don’t just read the script. No one wants to see you standing stiffly and hiding behind notes. We want to engage learners with an easy style, patience for snafus and an environement that does not threaten the technoterrified. Be comfortable with the topic so you don’t seem nervous.

Know your topic well or find a staff member, faculty member, volunteer or contractor who does. Assign the class to someone with an affinity for the subject — your staff eBay guru can teach the auction class! Embrace new technologies like Digital cameras, PDAs and MP3 players. Farm out stuff that you just don’t have time to master. Photoshop class?? Find a consultant that teaches such and work out a deal!

Feel out of the know? Read blogs, monitor RSS and seek out anything in the media that covers the tech world. It’ll filter into your training soon enough. I always grab USA TODAY when they have an extra TECH section!

Promote your classes: Use your library’s Web site & blog, e-notification and RSS feeds, create fliers and brochures, and alert the news media.

Listen to your audience. What classes do they want? What are they asking about? Ask, take note of trends and develop new and exciting training sessions as the technology world grows ever bigger!

Bonus: I repeat: HAVE FUN!