Lifelong Learning

Training4“We now accept the fact that learning is a lifelong process of keeping abreast of change. And the most pressing task is to teach people how to learn.” –  Peter Drucker

I recently read a Library Journal article “Top Skills for Tomorrow’s Librarians.” It reinforced for me the need for and value of continuing education for all library staff.  Everyone would benefit from knowing a bit about all the topics mentioned in this article. All of these skills are valuable for most jobs but especially in the library:

  • Advocacy/Politics
  • Collaboration
  • Communication/People Skills
  • Creativity/Innovation
  • Critical Thinking
  • Data Analysis
  • Flexibility
  • Leadership
  • Marketing
  • Project Management
  • Technological Expertise

One of the goals of PLAN is to support a robust library staff training program.  PLAN applies for LSTA funding to provide training. To determine what types of training are needed, we survey member library staff, receive feedback from Board members, monitor library trends in professional literature and blogs, and attend conferences. We offer training in a variety of formats, and in as many locations as possible.

Member libraries should also assist PLAN by supporting library staff training.  Many libraries have policies and plans for staff development. Does your library have a plan to update the skills of staff?  Are staff members encouraged to learn new skills? When a member of your staff receives a PLAN scholarship to attend a conference, do they share what they learned with other staff members? Have you updated your library’s job descriptions to reflect the changes in technology and new services? Is there an element in your staff evaluations related to learning new skills? Do staff have a dedicated time each week to learn a new skill, explore a new resource, or learn more about an existing service?

So, how do you implement a staff development plan for your library? A good place to start is with The Competency Index for the Library Field. This is a valuable resource for helping administrators and staff identify the knowledge, skills and support needed for today’s libraries. Not every staff person needs all the skills listed.  But in a library with a small staff, cross-training is a necessity.  In reviewing the competencies, staff members may be surprised by the number of skills they have already mastered.

Library staff at all levels need to make a commitment to learn the necessary skills to provide the best service to their patrons.  They also need to be willing to learn new ways of providing service that will keep the library relevant in today’s world.  Working together we can create a network of libraries with well-trained staff to better serve our users.

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