Internet Librarian–Cultivating Tech-Saavy Staff

Cultivating Tech-Saavy Library Staff

Sarah Houghton-Jan
David King

Sarah Houghton-Jan
San Mateo County Library

Technology Competencies: A path to training

tech competencies are a list of things that staff should know in order to do their jobs

You don’t need competencies if:
-every staff member is an expert in every technology you are currently using
– or if staff are willing to self-educate

You do need tech compentencies if:
–some are more skilled than others

How will competencies help?
–job descriptions
–reveal training needs
–address feelings of inequity
–help staff adjust and handle change

if everyone is basically skilled, then those experts will not be overworked to make up for others’ insecurities with tech

Create a purpose statement to get started
–guides planning
–explains process to all staff members

Two types of competencies
–Descriptive–kind of vague
–Task-based –more concrete, more action
may want to include some of both

before starting
1. Who does the lead work
2. Who identifies the competencies
3. Tech competencies or expanding to other general competencies
4. Core or extensive list
5 Do you have a timeline in mind
6. What constitutes technology?
7. Specific to the hardware and software now, or do you make the competencies more general (so it can evolve)?
8. Essential skills and extended skills?
9. Base on classification, position, location, or pay step?
10. Base on full-time/part-time/substitute, or desire for promotion/bonus?

Competency cycle

Getting Staff Buy In
Need buy in at all levels
ask staff for input and use it
keep everyone informed at all steps
have a purpose statement
reassure staff that they don’t have all competencies now
train managers first
managers must allow staff to attend training

Brainstorming for the leaders
literature search
existing position descriptions
prof. association requirements
library’s strategic goals
What do your customers need to know

Brainstorming for everyone else
Elicit input from staff through
-brainstorming session
-email discussion group
–blog or wiki
Seek input from others

Where will you competencies live?
Text or web?
A web version can list the cometencies with links to how-to’s

Competency Tips
–beware subject adjectives
–if using self-assessments have three choices: yes, no, mayber
–provide a technology terms glossary
–all new hires should complete the assessment

–Objective assessment
–subjective assessment
Who reviews the results

Slides will be available on


David King
10 Ways to Keep Techies Happy

1. Techies are part of the team
-include techies in planning groups
-let them research the techie parts of a project
-no-techie figures out the end result–techie figures ourt how to get there
-collaboration is key

2. Toys, gadgets, and server playgrounds
–many techies consider their job to be playing with toys
–let the techie test drive new things first(PDA, PC, etc)
–create a server playground
–create time to play – Google gives employees time to play

3. Do your part
–don’t automatically it’s a techie task just because it’s on the computer
–learn the basics
–don’t waste

4. Healthy Workplace
–fighting between 2 people vs departmental power struggles
–work on change management
–it starts with you

5. Training them and you
–Conferences, seminars, classes
–budget for books, white papers, etc
–train everyone
–anything your customers ask, you should know. If a lot of them ask

6. Adequate staffing/project balance
–branch staffing vs. web staffing
–1 person to how many PCs
–1 person to how many staff members
–how many techies vs. how many projects, vs time each project takes

7. Tell them when you don’t get it
–don’t pretend or be a know it all
–don’t let your lack of knowledge be a scapegoat

8. Pay them well
–actual pay
–time off for overtime
–some have re-worked payscales

9. Budget appropriately
–new techy projects cost
–budget those tings
–figure out the end result, how to get there, how to pay for it

10. Admit that we are all geeks
We are all experts in the part of the library that we operate in. Everyone has different strengths.

Technorati Tag: IL2006

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