Opening the Book courses can play a key part in staff inductions and appraisals. Many library services are building Opening the Book courses into their training strategy across the whole system. Typically a service buys a pyramid of places – 50 Page/Shelver places; 25 Librarian/Library Associate/Library Technician places and 5 Library Manager places. Services from London to Kampala have adapted numbers to fit their specific needs. In another model, libraries in North Wales combined together to run a shared programme with regional funding.
Below are three examples of how libraries are building Opening the Book courses into their strategic planning.
Cathryn Ferencz, Executive Manager, Library Services & Customer Experience, Geelong, Australia
With 50 places, we have trained up our Branch Librarians and are now moving on to our Library Officers. All new staff undertake an Opening the Book course as part of their induction and feedback to date has been that the course is well received and easy to manage. We appreciate having three administrators able to see the Dashboard as they all play a different role in our training. One of our senior managers has now embarked on a Library Manager's course.
Isabel Millward, Community Librarian- Services, Selwyn District Council, New Zealand
We are a small library service with four libraries and one mobile library. We are staffed with four community librarians who are full time and each branch has four part-time customer service officers. We are located in two urban centres and two rural centres, which very much influences the staff we can attract to roles in each library.
Our first take up of the lowest-cost course was a trial, to see where it was pitched, and now we are moving forward with offering this to staff who are new to libraries or have less than two years’ experience working in a library.
The mid-cost courses are offered to staff with some working experience, and they are allowed to choose the module the wish to study – however initially their community librarian will be looking for a good spread of the courses for their team – but we plan on having staff complete all modules eventually. One of our community librarians is going to take an Manager level course if she can get time.
Because our staff are part time (no-one is more than 20 hours per week), and also quite busy at work, we have some criteria for undertaking the courses. The courses should be accommodated in ‘work time’ and staff can use 1.5 hours per month of allocated training time if they are not managing to get meaningful periods of time to follow the course. The staff manage this themselves; managers don’t get involved in rostering any of this.
We have allocated a deadline of 6 months for completion of courses. This is largely to accommodate the busy period of library work combined with annual public holidays, staff leave etc. To date, staff have completed modules in 2-3 months.
We have built the Opening the Book courses into our induction programme so that as we set goals for new staff this becomes part of our 3-6 month objectives, but we haven’t as yet picked up on the assessment support area of the courses or included them in staff appraisals.
Staff have been keen to do these courses, so no need to motivate – I think staff like these courses as they are an effective alternative to formal qualifications, which take a long time and are expensive for individuals (even when the library will pay 50% of fees on successful completion of a paper) – the library pays all the costs for Opening the Book!
We are currently part way through a period of intense transformation of our library service – but what I see as the impact of Opening the Book courses is that staff start to ‘get’ what we are trying to achieve, (for example, supporting our systems and processes for appraisal and discards, first impressions count, displays that increase circulation) and they support those goals and can move towards the new services and service delivery models more comfortably.
Annabelle Mugge – Customer Experience Officer, Walkerville Library, Adelaide, Australia
Recently we have moved to Shared Services with Council administration staff which means new staff do not necessarily have library qualifications such as the longer term employees. This causes me concern, but a course like this can give employees with no library background a bit of an idea on what we are trying to achieve. It creates food for thought, especially for people new to the job.