Penny Talbert, Ephrata Public Library (PA)
Circ at her library is 630,000+, with 19 FT and 18 PT staff. Her service area is 32,000 people. She showed some photos. She raised $30,000 one day when she dressed like Waldo and went to businesses and asked them to give the library money, because the library couldn’t do payroll.
Define your program:
Transliteracy - The ability to read, write and interact across a wide range of platforms and tools.
We are getting reference questions on Facebook and Twitter!
She said we have an amazing opportunity! Before her staff had that one key person they went to when a patron had a question, but not anymore. At one meeting, she offered to host a skateboard park. She told her board they had an amazing opportunity. But it turned out to be a great thing. If we do this the right way, we can really make our community valuable. The bigger you can dig your hole, the more amazing the opportunity.
How do you know if you need competencies?
2) Observe as a Patron
First thing she did: put together a list of 29 pages of competencies.
She showed us an example of this page. It’s very basic.
Lists: the competency, what they need for software, and whose responsibility it is.
Your library’s website
Do they know how to use the data bases?
Your library’s OPAC
Extra services available to patrons
Devices being lent
Programs on the public PCs.
You can view her library’s competencies here: http://ephratapubliclibrary.libguides.com/
We show these things to our staff one at a time, so they aren’t overwhelmed. We are shooting for bite-sized training.
Of course, we need stakeholder buy-in, but the selling points are different.
When they finished this program, their donations went up significantly, especially at computer classes. More than one person would hand them a check for $1,000.
Biggest buy-in issues are usually from the staff. That person is on the “task force” and on the team to put this together.
They have employed something called “Learn or Leave.” They do exams every year. If staff did not receive an 80%, they were let go. She said all of the staff is given more than enough learning opportunities. She said only two people have only been let go.
Is this fair? If you don’t know what they’re doing, you are throwing work at your co-workers. We owe it to our patrons to provide them with the best they can.
-When teaching a new skill to your staff, start with the people with the lowest skills. If you start with your techies, they will tell everyone “how easy it is.”
-Also ensure security passwords. She has the passwords in an envelope, but doesn’t open it unless there is a staff change.
- Train from a very basic level.
- Introduce tools and devices one at a time.
Great tools to incorporate:
On the Clock
Jotform (free for surveys)
FluidSurveys (costs money)
Dropbox (safe for docs)
Get staff using technology in their daily lives without making them feel like they are using technology.
Webinars, inservice days, games, classes, WebJunction.
Written Competency exam, “Practicing” exams, Demonstrative exams. She also does a lot of surveys.
They also did some soft skill discussions.
They let staff do the work at home, and a paid learning time. They provided educational opportunities, but her staff knew the more of this the happened, the more Penny had to raise. She was invested in them !
Change your culture: Weekly online group activities, assisgn group projects, promote staff-only social fund events. They want the library involved in EVERYTHING. If a page wants to join the Lions Club, the library covers that.
Questions she asks:
How do you collaborate?
What motivates you?
When are you most productive?
How do you resolve conflicts?
What is your passion?
How do you communicate? (some staff only communicate by text, but she doesn’t)
REMEMBER THE MISSION.
4 years into the program:
She ended by saying if we do a program like this, we won’t regret it. When staff are competent to answer basic questions, it frees you up for the really difficult stuff. Staff should be able to handle the everyday stuff. The community also knows when they walk in their doors, that anyone can help and will get the same answer.
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