Monday, 6 June 2016

Library Training

It is the first week back after the May half term and I am about to take on a new Library volunteer. She has approached me as she is keen to pursue a career as an academic librarian and would like to gain some relevant experience for the rest of this term and into next year - no pressure on me then!

This is about to plunge me into a new and third type of training experience.

My first experience came in my previous post where I played a significant role in training new staff members and, later on, Graduate Trainees. These each followed a training programme that we had devised with the ultimate aim being that they were competent in working in our Learning Resources Centres, be able to deal with the day-to-day tasks required of them, oversee the senior level tasks assigned to them where relevant and be able to handle the wide variety of enquiries we received.

My second experience began with my current post. At the beginning of the academic year, Year 12 students were given the opportunity to sign up to a wide range of enrichment clubs, groups and activities, one of them being Library Volunteers. Whilst three or four initially signed up I only had one student who was really interested and spent an hour a week with me until the Easter break. Whilst she showed enthusiasm, however, she didn't have a particular interest in working in libraries. Therefore I had the challenge of giving her a meaningful experience in just one hour a week where she could walk away with a selection of transferable skills that she could then outline in a CV and apply to other work. Ultimately, she was able to take away the following, to varying degrees - for example, we had very few shop sales whilst she was here and my link of how she had developed an awareness of the importance of the visual display of materials and how they are organised to maximise space by re-arranging the prospectus collection to one copy stored alphabetically and creating new box labels is a bit tenuous to say the least!

  • Contributed to raising the profile of resources, developed her attention to detail and ability to consistently conform to cataloguing standards by adding details of new journal articles into the Library Management System.
  • Developed an awareness of how national events can be linked to local organisations and activities by helping to promote National Poetry Day and encouraged peers to take part in activities organised by the Library.
  • Demonstrated an ability to follow set guidelines in order to identify resources appropriate for weeding. Developed communication skills by liaising with me to discuss relevance and an awareness of the important of recording details of withdrawn items for audit purposes.
  • Developed an awareness of the importance of the visual display of materials and how they are organised to maximise space by re-arranging the prospectus collection and re-vitalising labelling.
  • Contributed to the effective organisation of materials to aid retrieval by helping to devise a classification scheme for the IAG collection. Demonstrated communication skills further by liaising with me in order to classify difficult to place titles.
  • Developed an awareness of the importance of visual and verbal communication in restrained activities, i.e. how a poster needs to catch the eye and convey appropriate messages about the contents and benefits of the IAG collection and how to do the same through only a few lines included in a library welcome induction.
  • Developed use of Excel spreadsheets to record changing stock quantities and financial transactions.

My new and third experience of training is now going to contain elements of both - my new volunteer will only be committed to one hour a week and she will require specifically library-related tasks but without being trained to the extent that she could run the Library by herself.

To tackle this I have decided to think back to my time training new Graduate Trainees and devise a programme that includes all aspects of working in an academic library - from opening the Centre, daily duties such as scanning the newspapers, taking shop sales and issuing and returning to cataloguing new resources, helping me with my classification project and managing journals - approaching each as though I were fully training her but leaving some tasks at just an introduction in one session and not continuing them each week. This way, I hope, she will get a flavour of the entire range of work involved and be able to also be involved in longer term projects without being bogged down by small tasks repeated each week. I'll have to see what she thinks at the end!

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