T is for Training Meme

Our illustrious leader, Maurice Coleman aka baldgeekinmd, challenged the cast of regulars on the podcast T is for Training to answer these 27 questions.  We had to limit our answers to one sentence.  So here are the questions with my answers bolded.

1.) Your One Sentence Bio

Coordinator Software Support and Training for Howard County Library, social web aficionado, budding photographer.

2.) Do you blog? If yes, how did you come up with your blog name?

Yes.  A variation on the name of my blog from Maryland’s 23 Things.

3.) What is your professional background?

Jacquelynn of all trades, mistress of some regarding work in the library (Circ[past], ILL [past], IT and training [current]).

4.) What training do you do? staff? patrons? types of classes?

Yes, yes and technology/social web based classes for both.

5.) What training do you think is most important to libraries right now

Technology based training – anything from social web to word processing to apps for mobile phones.

6.) Where do you get your training?

Pick it up where I can.

7.) How do you keep up?

TisforTraining podcast, Twitter (trainers group), blogs and RSS feeds – especially from the cast of regulars (they rock)!

8.) What do you think are the biggest challenges libraries are facing right now?

Funding and getting the respect they deserve as part of the education process within the community.

9.) What are biggest challenges for trainers?

The students, seriously you can teach almost anything but if the person is resistant….well.

10.) What exciting things are you doing training wise?

Nothing really other than using Jeopardy as a way to access if the class got it – they have fun and so do I.

11.) What do you wish were you doing?

List is too long to put here.

12.) What would you do with a badger?

Release it to the wild or give it to a wildlife sanctuary.

13.) What’s your favorite food?

Food!  Literally I love all kinds and they are my favs (but big on carbs and sweets unfortunately).

14.) If you were stranded on an island, what one thing would you want to have with you?

My cell phone because it would keep me connected to the world (assuming that I’d have coverage there).

15.)  Do you know what happens when a grasshopper kicks all the seeds out of a pickle?

Umm, it curls up inside and goes to sleep???

16.) Post it notes or the back of your hand?

Big Post-It note fan here.

17.) Windows or Mac?

LINUX!

18.) Talk about one training moment you’d like to forget?

My Twitter class for the public when within 10 mins of starting 2 people left which rattled me for the rest of the class.

19.) What’s your take on handshakes?

Firm has to be firm because wimpy just doesn’t do.

20.) Global warming: yes or no

Sadly, yes although if you judge by this winter you wouldn’t know it.

21.) How did you get into this line of work?

See blog post for how I got started in library biz – I feel into the role of training and discovered was good at it and people enjoyed/learned from my classes.

22.) Why is the best part of your job?

That I honestly learn something new every day!

23.) Why should someone else follow in your shoes?

Because they love to help people, love that ah-ha moment and love to learn themselves.

24.) Sushi or hamburger?

Sushi, definitely.

25.) LSW or ALA?

LSW without a doubt.

26.) What one person in the world do you want to have lunch with and why?

Hmm, would have to be some of the brains that work at Google because they are innovative and rate a high cool factor ;)

27.) What cell phone do you have and why?

MyTouch 3G (running on open source Android OS) because I love to stay connected and informed.

My fellow T is for Training folks and their answers to the questions:

Nicole Engard – The T is for Training Challenge

Polly-Alida Farrington – The T is for Training Challenge

Bobbi Newman – T is for Training Meme

Alison Miller – A T is for Training Challenge

Maurice Coleman’s Getting to Know All About Me Post

Betha Getsche - I Like Sushi & Libraries

Laura Botts – “C is for Challenge” at “T is for Training”

Heather Braum – T is for Training Challenge Meme

Jill Hurst-Wahl – Me. Coffee. Morning.

Pete Bromberg’s 23 things (minus 3): A getting to know ya post

Stephanie Zimmerman – A Get to Know Me Meme from TIFT

Marianne Lenox – 27 Questions (Supplemental Pictorial Essay)

Paul Signorelli – Paul’s Getting to Know Me Post

Lauren Pressley – 23 Questions with Lauren Pressley

Buffy Hamilton – 27 Questions with Buffy Hamilton

Jay Turner – 20 Questions for Just that Guy

Julie Strange – T is for Training Questionapalooza v 1.1

Angela Paterek – Getting to Know Me

You Must Be Very Polite With Yourself

What’s the most important thing you learned in 2009?

This is a question posed by ALALearning on Twitter.  I’ve been pondering it over the last several hours.  I’m not one to normally do a review of the year gone by at the end of the year (although I know it is perfectly natural to do so).  I was having a hard time answering the question.

To me learned implies that I’ve mastered it to some degree.  I feel like I’m still learning photography (of course I am I’ve been doing it less than a year) so that couldn’t be my answer.  I thought some more.  I’m still learning so many things and even if I feel confident in them I don’t ever see myself as mastering them (which to me is a good thing as I think once you’ve mastered something you might rest on your laurels and not learn anything else).

While soaking in a hot bubble bath tonight (sorry for the TMI) I was reading “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert.  I came to a sentence on page 56 that just struck me.  “Liz, you must be very polite with yourself when you are learning something new.”  I had an ah-ha moment.  The light bulb went off.  As a trainer I feel that (and have been told as well) I’m very patient with folks learning new skills.  However, I know for a fact that I’m not very patient (or polite) with myself when learning.  I am impatient, I want to get to the next level, I want to master it (sounds ironic considering what I’ve said in the previous paragraph).

I think, no strike that I know it is my biggest stumbling block when it comes to my photography.  I so want to be at a better level than I am yet I have failed to see that to get to it I need to learn all the little steps in between.  I need to be more polite, more patient with myself when I’m learning something new.  I need to remember the patience I have when a student has asked for the umpteenth time how to copy/paste – I grin and quietly, calmly instruct them once again on how to do it perhaps trying a different tactic so this time it sinks in for them.

So, although I still can not answer the question posed to me, I am hoping that the bath time revelation I had will prove to be something that I try to do when I’m learning something new.  I need to treat myself as I would one of my students.  So maybe next year I can answer that I’ve learned to be polite/patient with myself (and others) when learning something new.

What I Meant To Say

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase

Why is it that you always think of the perfect thing to say after the fact?  Last night was no exception.  I taught an overview of Twitter and all the good things came to me after the class had left.  I’m left feeling as if I let them down by not passing along this info.  I had so much in my head, so much I had planned to show and talk about but somehow there is never enough time.

So here is a list of things I hope I pointed out but in case I didn’t:

  • Your follower/following ratio – this ratio should not be horribly lopsided.  5 followers but following 500 isn’t good.  More than likely that person is just in it for the numbers (so folks just want to have the most followers but aren’t really using Twitter correctly).
  • Before you follow – view their profile.  Is their bio filled out?  Who are they following?  What is their follower/following ratio?  Read some of their tweets, all of them help you to decide is this person really someone I want to follow.
  • Twitter vs. Facebook – Twitter is more informational.  Facebook is more fun.  Each has it’s place and they can connect (have Twitter update your status on Facebook) but I don’t get the same level of information on Facebook as I do on Twitter.
  • To understand Twitter you need to use Twitter.  Not that the concept is so hard to grasp just that it can have so many applications depending on what you want from it.
  • I did say this but feel I should elaborate – Twitter is what you get out of it.  I use it to stay on top of trends (professionally or just what’s going on in the world), I use it to stay informed (following BBCnews, BreakingNews, NyTimes as well as several experts in the social media arena), I use it to connect to others in my profession, I use it for note taking (I’ve live blogged a photography class I attend at the library just using Twitter.  Because I hashtagged my Tweets I was able to go back later and put all my notes into a cohesive blog post).
  • Use Twitter for what you want but be real.  If you want to connect with other like minded folks, Twitter is great for that.  If you want to promote your business, non-profit, favorite charity, etc. it is also great for that.  Just beware.  Don’t be an institution.  People want to follow real people no matter whether is it a Mom who is looking to connect to other stay at home Moms or it is a Fortune 500 company trying to connect with their customers.  Let your personality shine through on your tweets.  Don’t be stuffy.  Also don’t make it all about you – engage a conversation with your customers.  Make yourself approachable.  Twitter is just another doorway into your business – good customer service extends to the web as well.
  • Protecting your tweets isn’t always a good thing.  If you are out on the social web the point is to share.  I understand about wanting to be in control of what you share with others.  Protecting your tweets just puts another layer between you and the people/customers who may want to follow you.  This also keeps your tweets out of searches.  So if I search for dog grooming and your are a dog groomer with protected tweets I’m not going to see you and you may miss an opportunity for business.  What are you protecting?  Think twice before you protect your tweets.
  • Be patient.  Give it a try.  Twitter wasn’t built in a day.  You need to try it on, take it out for a test drive, kick the tires a little bit before you decide.  The social web has a web site for everyone – Twitter maybe for you or it may not.  But at least give it a try.
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Why Libraries Rock

3835642932_1981254635In order to raise awareness not only of the plight of the Louisville Free Public Library but libraries everywhere I decided to participate in the Blogathon that Andy Woodworth got started.

So why are libraries awesome or rock or kick butt?   All libraries rock because they allow free access to all information (be it print, audio, visual or world wide webable).   We do a lot more than that but since each library focuses on different aspects of their community I thought I’d blog about why MY library rocks!

My library rocks starting at the top and it works it’s way down through every staff member.

  • Our Library Board is very supportive of what we do and sees that our mission & vision stays current and provides our customer base with what they expect.
  • Our Executive Director and CEO has seen that we are not only aligned with  but synonymous with education.  Education is the corner stone of what we do.  We educate all the time – whether it is a story time class, book promotion, or customer service staff helping a customer log into their account.  Each interaction is based in educating, in training.  This is just one of the many initiatives she has implemented since coming to Howard County.
  • Our Public Relations department that produces an outstanding newsletter every quarter that highlights our classes, events, and seminars.  They have created the Howard County Library brand and oversee everything from our flyers, to our signs, to our social web presence making sure  we are consistently presenting the correct image and wording.
  • Our Information Technology department which not only supports over 300 computers (and more coming)  for our public to use (using a Linux operating system which allows us to save our tax payers money while providing a stable, secure environment on which to work) but also the staff desktops (in Linux, Mac and Windows).  We also maintain the web site, catalogs, and databases so our customers may  self-direct their education.
  • Our Children’s & Teen Curriculum – what can I say about all the wonderful classes our children’s services provide?  I’ve been privy to many (taking photos or just walking by) – the amount of energy, time, thought and fun (while learning) that goes into these classes is second to none.  These instructors really have  a calling and put our youngest customers on the path to lifelong learning.  The teen events are no less spectacular.  Making purses from old jeans,  “Hogwarts Summer School” to celebrate the latest Harry Potter movie, Duct Tape flip-flops and gaming nights give our teens a safe environment to socialize, learn and interact.
  • Our Events and Seminars – the learning and fun isn’t just for our children and teens.  Author visits, book club discussions, classes on technology, health, finances or travel and recreation are just some of the great offerings our adult customers can enjoy.
  • Our Passport facility.  Our East Columbia Branch is now an official Passport Acceptance Facility.  Another great service for our customers.  They can use all the wonders of the library while applying for their passports.
  • Community Education and Partnerships.  No library is an island, we are very  much a part of the community.  Our partnerships – Howard County Public School system, Howard Community College, Lincoln Technical Institute, Leadership Howard County, Choose Civility, Horizon Foundation, Howard County Autism Society, Lazarus Foundation – (PCs4Kids), HC DrugFree, Inc., Girl Scouts, Ubuntu Maryland Local Community Team – are just some of the ways we are out in the community interacting, engaging, and educating our customers.
  • Our Collection.   It’s not just the outstanding materials our selectors purchase but the hard working individuals that catalog, process and circulate these materials so that our customers can get what they want when they want it (whether it’s an in house visit or via our web site and catalogs).
  • Our Customer Service.  We pride ourselves on not only meeting but exceeding our customer’s ideas of what good customer service looks like.  This comes in all shapes and forms – from helping someone at our Information or Customer Services desks, to recommended a book/dvd/cd/or event via our blog Highly Recommended, to answering a customer’s concern via email, to talking to a teen who just needs someone to listen – we believe in going that extra step, that extra degree.

There are many more aspects and departments that I didn’t mention.  They too help to give our customers what they want or support our staff so they can give our customer what they need.  We need ALL the parts of this well oiled machine to make our library rock and to rank first in the nation among great public libraries according to Hennen’s American Public Library Ratings 2008.

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Calling All Trainers

Great presenter, friend  and all around fantastic trainer needs your help!  Lori Reed, Employee Learning & Development Coordinator for the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County, is calling all trainers, training coordinators, HR managers, directors, consultants, anyone who supports the training and learning function within libraries.

Take a moment to fill out her quick survey.

We both thank you in advance!

Learning Through Technology

103_0557Learning Solutions Through Technology

Lori Reed and Sarah Houghton-Jan

Will try to blog as best I can but I’m taking video for Lori and also keeping time for her so this maybe a short blog post.

Yep, had no time to type so I’ll post the video to this post after I edit it.

Sarah next.

Love that Sarah admitted she cried a bit. Nice to know that we are all human and when things don’t go the way we hope it hurts a bit. But she moved on.

Verbal agreements are worth nothing-get it in writing.

One person with enough power can kill a valuable project (sadly been on the receiving side of that myself).

Not everyone believes that some staff still need basic skills (yes but they do they really do).

Tech2Know program plan – short web-based blog how-to guides, common craft in plain english type tutorials – one topic a week – present live twice that week – prizes like 23 Things and competencies (pre and post assessment of skills – anonymous).

3 Follow up elements – online disc. forums for each topic (trouble shooting printer, evanced calendar, etc.), Tech Playground Day, Ask The Techies Week – target lingering issue – something you were afraid to ask – you could ask anything .

Core principles – prizes are so important, free or low cost tech swag

Invest in Staff Training – save money, strengthen staff skills, improve customer service, increase efficiency, motivate staff, increase staff retention rate, show commitment to lifelong learning (yeah!)

Benefits of a skills bases approach

equitable expectations for all staff, reveals training needs, accurate job descriptions, helps w/performance evaluations, consistent customer service, helps staff adjust and handle change

Learning should be part of your strategic goals/plan

As you plan – what are your goals, who is managing it, do you have or need to create a skills list, what timeline in mind, what are your resources including funding and staff, what training resources exist and what ones need to be created.

Ensure staff by-in – listen, keep everyone informed, reassure staff that they don’t have to KNOW IT ALL, managers MUST follow project plan, hold brainstorming session or party, fun, rewards, chocolate/food

Harder to get Admin to by-in – purpose statement, measurable deliverable ROI – numbers, performance evaluation – make that process easier they’ll by-in give them a checklist to use w/evaluation, train administrators separately BUT first

Creating Training Program – types/number of trainings, basic topics, Open TO ALL STAFF NO MATTER WHAT – mandatory or voluntary?, budget needs to be on actual staff needs, set goals and rewards

Scheduled Learning – Unscheduled Learning (very powerful) off the cuff stuff, read a blog, over hear a conversation anywhere and use the ideas,

Ongoing Learning – give 15 mins a day to just learn, read an article, study/learn, schedule 1 off desk hour for self-study, encourage conference/lecture attendance (oh yes), share online tutorials, printed materials or demos

WebJunction Learning Webinars, Infopeople Webcasts and more

Add fun to your training, use real world examples, personalize the exercises, highlight tips and tricks, encourage student independence, ask students to dream at the end, be available and accessible

No Woman is an Island

Forgive me John Donne (1572-1631) for taking poetic license.

I’ve been training staff members over the last 3-4 years (maybe more my memory ain’t what it used to be). It was something I stumbled into and found that I not only enjoyed but actually good at (or at least according to comments and evaluations). With each class that I taught, I’ve gained some insight. I love the give and take of training, the flow of not only energy but information. I believe that training should be a two-way street. It isn’t all about ME passing on information. I can learn a lot as well. I can learn what does or doesn’t work for a particular curriculum or for a particular learning style. I can sometimes learn a new way or shortcut of doing something even thought I thought I knew them all. To me it’s important to keep on learning as I help others to learn.

Recently I gave my first training for the public. What a great unknown that was for me. How computer savvy would they be? How do you create a training not knowing the skill level of your auidence? It was a good thing because I had gotten comfortable with training the staff and sometimes comfort can equate to being stale. The last thing I want to be is stale.

Most importantly this series of Web 2.0 classes wasn’t all about me. I wasn’t alone. No woman is an island or at least this woman wasn’t. So far the series has been pretty much a big success. I’ve been encouraged to offer this to staff and again to the public since we had such good turn out. But I could not have done this alone. So taking a nod from the Oscars….

I’d like to thank the academy:

  • Luis Salazar for diligently working to get me a viewsonic that gave a clear picture and worked with our Ubuntu laptop (at one point we had tried Ubuntu, Windows and Mac before we realized it was the viewsonic not the laptop)
  • Donna Metcalf for her support (attending a class) and helping Luis w/viewsonic issue.
  • Dennis Wood for being my AV man. He not only got me setup correctly on the sound portion but also tried to get the viewsonic working for another instructor in the Web 2.0 series.
  • Amy de Groff for allowing and encouraging me to do this. Also for her flexibility with my schedule (being boss and all).
  • Ruth Vargas and Danny Bouman for also being flexible and allowing me to switch my morning duties so I could present these classes at night.
  • Kim Ha for willing taking on a class on wikis (her passion) by herself.
  • Katie George for an outstanding job during our social networking class. I honestly couldn’t have done a better job and she was a hard act to follow.
  • Brian Auger for being willing to share our mutual passion of music and help me with tonight’s class on music social networking.
  • Fritzi Newton, photographer extraordinaire, for sharing her passion of photography and allowing me to sneak in a few moments about YouTube and Veho during Tuesday’s class.
  • my hubby for dealing with the dogs and dinner without me there – yes, dear we are a team
  • and most importantly the public for embracing this series so far

If I left anyone out it is not intentional.  I thank you all for helping me with this endeavor and I’ve learned a lot from each one of you.

Librarian – definition please

I entered into an interesting conversation with Greg Schwartz because of a sentence in my “About” page. I describe myself as not being a librarian by some people’s definition. What I mean is that I don’t have a MLS. However, if we go by the definition from Merriam-Webster dictionary (a specialist in the care or management of a library) then some might consider what I’ve done for the last 25 years makes me a librarian.

One could argue that a piece of paper does not a librarian make. I don’t mean that a degree lacks value but maybe it should have a statue of limitations. Does a degree from 5, 10, 15 or even 20 years ago still have the same value today? Has our industry not grown and changed by leaps in bounds lately? How could something you learned 20 years ago in college even begin to apply to today’s library? Doesn’t real life experience on the job teach you so much more than any class room?

Keep in mind that I am a trainer. I love to teach. I love seeing someone have an “ah-ha!” moment. I am a life long learner myself. I firmly believe the day I stop learning from life, work, people, the universe is the day I die. I’m not trying to devalue any educator anywhere. I’m not saying that college or any kind of formal training doesn’t have it’s place but I’d just like to see real life experience get the same level of respect.

If real life experience of 25 years in customer service/circulation services, in Interlibrary Loan, in Automation and now with Information Technology counts for anything….maybe Greg is right, I am a Librarian.

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