Helping libraries around the world

Opening the Book courses will inspire individual staff and whole services to meet the challenges of the modern library. Over the last 16 years 20,000 staff have taken our training courses in many different countries; courses gain 99% satisfaction ratings from users.

Library Training around the world

What our learners say

I found this course extremely useful. It forced me to look very closely at our library- at what we do and how we do it – and then bring a new perspective to our space and our procedures, really to every aspect of our work here. I guess I was surprised at how far reaching the effects of some of the assignments took us. It definitely stretched me in many ways that I did not anticipate. The course is fun, and not only that, it will make you better at your job and more to offer your current or next employer. This course is not an obligation or a responsibility...it is an opportunity. I can’t say enough about the guidance offered to me by my mentor. She was extremely supportive but also critical when I wasn’t directly on the mark of where the training was directing me. She demanded that I meet high standards but made me feel that my work was recognised and appreciated when I pushed myself. Excellent mentorship.

Erik Komarnicki Calgary Public Library, Canada

There are two key things that I've learned over the last few weeks, the value of a smile and the art of putting together a great display. Both of these things together make for a warm and inviting library space, regardless of its size or its resources and so can be utilised anywhere.

Claire Williams Awen Libraries, Wales

I've learned lots of useful tips and shared from the experience and ideas of my learner colleagues. I'd like to thank Opening the Book for a stimulating and practical course.

John Holland Malvern College Library, Egypt

What has struck me most through the weeks is that we should look at the library through the eyes of the customers. This made me change several things that I had not been aware of before. Also the importance of grabbing customers’ attention through use of displays is very important. Less is more has made a big impact on me and I have decluttered some parts of the library and can now see how a few books displayed can be much more appealing than a too many books which can overload the customer.

Jane Stewart Banff Library, Scotland

This course has been wonderful for looking at stock from a different angle. To look at things within genres - subgenres in genres like space opera and satire under the sci-fi umbrella. I particularly enjoyed the graphic novels section and the practical part of setting up a display to showcase a genre. I would say that is great for understanding genre, marketing books and for broadening knowledge of the stock.

Richard Amos Central Bedfordshire Libraries, UK

This was a very interesting observation of my own workspace. I liked the simplicity yet depth of the exercises, the short text for easy online reading, the ready-made spreadsheets. I would recommend this course. I suggest that you will come away thinking differently about seeing your library. Exceeded my expectations.

Robin Berghart University of Guelph Library, Ontario, Canada

The structure of the course is impressive: things work, it is graphically attractive, clear and useful information is easily accessible. The library walkthrough was a valuable and interesting exercise and made the participants feel valued too! I loved the provision of the questionnaires, differentiated for users and attractively presented for a school; not too corporate but business like! There were lovely interactive exercises that vary the course experience. The onus on self-reflection makes the feedback tasks good - it made me think long and hard, which is a starting point for growth.

Marilyn Luck British School, Netherlands

What I liked about the course was the questions are worded simply and by using the printables it was just so simple to decide what was appropriate for certain children age groups etc. I actually went into a fellow librarian’s class as I wanted to see how the questions would be received by different groups of children. My fellow teacher sat mesmerised at my enthusiasm!! I just found it so easy to use the printables and then run classes and then answer questions knowing what worked and what I could enhance or change. Brilliant. I now have children who I can ask to find a book that might make them laugh and offer an idea of where they might look in the library and they are confident to go and bring back something that we can share together and decide whether it’s the right kind of book for them. I think that also by having a question displayed on the wall it’s easy for me to focus certain students on a particular question and get them involved if I feel they are losing interest. I think that my library groups have become more inclined to look around the library in areas they maybe did not before. They seem to be talking to each other a lot more and I have noticed that children who mainly looked at sports books, for instance, have wanted to branch out and look at other literature.

Anita Henry Gems World Academy, United Arab Emirates

As a fairly new recruit in the library world it was great to have the opportunity to learn more about the job and environment. I found the information invaluable about books themselves; their genres, subgenres and covers, and the way they are aimed at reader groups. It was great to get to know readers and ways to approach them, what questions to ask to really open up the conversation around books and it gave me some great ideas for displays!

Ellie Miller Welsh National Government

The course makes you stop and think about how we do things and how to make improvements to displays. It gives you ideas to try out and some really good suggestions. It was very comprehensive and gave good examples and illustrations so you could easily see the point. I would recommend it absolutely – I really enjoyed it!

Ruth Walton North Tyneside Libraries, UK

When I started this course I thought I had a well-run library with well utilised stock. From the first lesson I realised how mistaken I was!! I decluttered and refocused my approach to displays and stock. I have removed myself from the barrier that the desk had become - and would like to think I am becoming like one with the user. Thanks to everyone for all of their help and for teaching me new ways to promote our library's books and services.

Liz Fay Mitchelstown Library, Republic of Ireland

The option to pick up/leave off at will meant I could handle the course in bite size chunks, which was really convenient. The practical elements were well interspersed throughout the course, just at the right points to reinforce what I was learning. I liked the downloadable resources. Particularly impressed by the Like/Hate bookmarks which I think we will put into regular use in our library. They've proved a fascinating way to gauge readers' responses to our stock choices. Overall this course has proved well worth the time and effort. I was slightly worried it would be too theoretical, but a lot of the information has real, immediate practical use. The course format gave me ample time and I didn't feel like I had to rush to get the course completed. There was time to read through sections more than once and really absorb what was being communicated. Having the time estimate also helped in planning how much time to take off my normal library duties to complete the course.

Joanne Howe City of London Libraries, UK

Doing this course has snowballed as other staff and our volunteers joined in the display experiments with great enthusiasm! We did achieve very interesting results in particular from using colour and contrasts in book covers. The challenge now is to narrow it all down to what works for our library and then to keep up the good work. I did a brief presentation at our recent district staff meeting to share what I have learned from this course, in particular that it is little everyday things you can do that will make a big difference in how visitors experience the library. I have really enjoyed the course and wish everyone else good luck with the work in their libraries.

Sylvia Bowles Hurunui Library, New Zealand

Because of all the emergencies pressing on us every day, it can be hard to take the time to sit down and get started on the training. But, whenever I do, I remember why I'm here and what my job is really about - it's like opening a big window and feeling a fresh breeze blowing in.

Fiona Campbell Melbourne Library Service, Australia

I want to let you know the course so far is excellent. I enjoy the modules. I feel revved up and informed and inspired working through and applying ideas in our own library. The content is absolutely applicable and relevant and reflects library practice in our contemporary world and into the future. I appreciate all of the work that goes into developing such a course and the incredible passion that drives the motivation and expertise.

Louise Mrdjen City of Port Lincoln, Australia

This course is about people communicating their reading experiences, yes, but fundamentally it's about people connecting with each other. It is perhaps the most empowering course I have ever done. Do it. It is vital.

Suzanne Verrall Adelaide City Council Libraries, Australia

Loved it. It’s so easy to get stale and not "see" that which you look at every day. The course made me see our promotional displays with fresh eyes.

Carolyn McEwan Walkerville Library Service, Australia

Over the duration of this course, I think what has stood out most is the importance of varying the colour of the book covers in the displays and leaving fewer gaps around books. This has much improved the appearance of our book displays and made them more attractive to customers. I also am now always on the lookout for areas of clutter. I think decluttering in libraries probably needs to be an ongoing process.

Michelle Summerfield Port Chalmers Library, New Zealand

I have seen that the techniques on this course work. The public and my workmates like the displays and issues of displayed stock have increased. The stock looks more appealing, it has highlighted the other areas that could do with jazzing up. I feel more confident about suggesting displays to my supervisors and I know it will make me think harder about our stock. Space is always an issue, our display areas are limited, so we could try and re-think our shelving arrangements so that they don't seem like barriers. Our entrance area leads straight to our issue pods so we must make other areas seem spacious by not cluttering things up. Pare down notices, streamline our posters and keep everything simple and fresh.

Margaret Baldwin Bitterne Library, UK

This week we had our yearly Book Week. It was a lot of fun. I had something prepared for them but specially third graders wanted to continue with the activity Lucky Dip Again!! I mixed both activities - Lucky dip and Fortune Teller - and called it Lucky Dip Again! That was a surprise and everyone felt happy about it.

Susan Gavidia Academia Británica Cuscatleca, El Salvador

I really enjoyed this course. It had a practical and real impact on my day to day work in getting me to think about the conversations I have with customers. Over the course of this study it made me more confident in approaching people, understanding how best to initiate these sort of conversations and how to get useful information about how people use our library, what we do well and what we can improve on. I would say this course is great for encouraging staff out from behind the counter to engage productively with their visitors. The message about giving our customers a reading experience, rather than thinking about genre, was invaluable in interacting with people. The course will get you to think about what reading experience a customer will get when they read one of our books, and this really helps with recommending satisfying reads to them.

Simon Chipps Neath Port Talbot Libraries, Wales

I found the mentor feedback hugely useful - someone else looking at what I was doing with an objective eye and giving encouragement and ideas for extending what I'd done. It’s very motivational and hugely enjoyable.

Jennifer Stewart Service Development Librarian, Scotland

The training showed the best way to present books to our visitors, something which I have always struggled to do before. It gives good guidelines and advice. I was always bit nervous when asked to fill up stock and to re-work the displays but not now.

Ruth Davies Merthyr Tydfil Library, UK

I have learned a great deal from this course, especially the value of good displays and marketing your stock to attract borrowers to items they might not normally borrow or were aware of. My awareness of this has been increased and wherever I am placed on cover, I apply these methods. My aim to provide a better variety of stock in displays and choose carefully what to include and not go straight for the obvious author.

Laura Reed Forest Hall Library, UK

I've enjoyed trying new things within the library, some ideas I've been able to keep and others not. The changes I did with the Young adult area of making the book shelves all look different, moving the books around looks great. Issues have increased and the youth love it that their area is different and not the same as everywhere else. I enjoy walking past a display and changing over books that have been there too long and seeing the new ones going out the door.

Dianne Mears Mosgiel Library, New Zealand

Okay, My library is beautiful. I love coming to work in this space. Beautiful light, large windows with overflowing blooming gardens, the artwork is creative and done by professional artists, everything is comfortable. However, I am noticing a slow decay as I walk around all this beauty. People hang signs that don't come down, or are not updated. There are old pieces of kids art, stickers, small bits of trash just around. Our pencil cups are dirty and filled with broken pencils, and our computer tables have wires running everywhere. We are now implementing a roving reference model that I hope will solve some of these issues. Without an assignment I would not have noticed these issues.

Autumn Solomon Westbank Community Library, USA

Although I have worked in libraries for many years and feel confident greeting and helping customers, doing the course has been a really useful experience, enabling me to take a fresh look at how I work and sharing my ideas with my colleagues. I now try and structure some time every day I am at work to ensure displays are looking great - hopefully generating issues! I keep a list of what topics we've used (and if they've worked or not!) also any ideas for future displays.

Caroline Blake-Smith Swindon Libraries, UK

I’m finding the way the units are set out very logical and I like how some of the techniques I learn in one unit I use in another. I appreciate your help and feedback when I come up against an obstacle.

Jade Dowzard City of Victor Harbour Library, Australia

I consider myself a good library assistant but this training has made me realise that you can get stuck in a rut; just going through the motions without really thinking about what you are doing and what your job entails. This has served as a good reminder and made me enjoy my job more. Having taken my time, doing displays, seeing my library through fresh eyes, I feel I can make difference.

Lisa Ashcroft West Dunbartonshire, Scotland

The biggest takeaway I have from the course is the importance of being customer-focused - from acknowledging people with a smile, to linking people with library services to arranging the physical space with an eye to what the customer sees when they enter. One difference I’ve noticed in our libraries since the course was completed by colleagues and myself is the physical appeal of the space. I am noticing much more eye-catching books on display, and these are placed appropriately for people entering the library. I hope this leads to more reading and enjoyment of a wide range of literature by our customers. This has been a very informative and thought-provoking course. I am seeing the Library space with sharper eyes now!

Jo Eddy Casual Library Officer, Australia

The course made me think more about the various areas of the library and how we look. I enjoyed the content and it is very easy to understand and follow. I particularly enjoyed the exercise where I moved the covers of the books on the screen and tried lots of colours against each other. I would say that the time was suggested was very realistic and it was nice being able to log on any time or any place that suited me and go straight to where I was on the course.

Carol McQuillan Tresham College, UK

I think the course was excellent because it made me think about aspects of my job that I had not thought deeply enough about. The main thing I gained was an awareness of my reader prejudice, which I was not aware of, and I feel I may have been guilty of being a bit dismissive of patrons seeking, for example, romance novels, or perhaps I did not put in the effort that all the patrons deserve. I actually decided to read a Bestseller that looked like the type of book I would normally not borrow, and I am really enjoying it, so I have certainly gained a lesson there!

Andrea Weber Whitehorse Manningham Libraries, Australia

It really inspired me to work very hard in our library. You know we work as a team and we all look forward to promoting our library to greater heights. I have read your feedback and it really impressed me very much. Thank you very much for your very good and inspiring comments on what I have done concerning the course.

Samuel Amaku National Teachers’ College Muni Library, Uganda

One of the main things I have learnt from Playing your part in the library welcome is how exciting creating colourful displays can be. After creating displays which are rich in colour and have vibrant art work I realised that these books really do catch the eye and has taught me that readers will be intrigued to pick them up. Keen readers who come in are sometimes stuck in their genres or only look in specific places but by changing the display and creating more colour these people are drawn to have a look and are more tempted to read something more unusual to their taste than they would otherwise choose.

Cheryl Williams Denbighshire Libraries, Wales

One thing I've learned - or rather, been reminded of and given tips on how to implement - is the central importance of creating a certain impression on library users as they come through the door and move around in the library space. A quick glance and smile sets the tone, and can make the difference between someone feeling able to come and ask a question, and leaving without getting what they wanted from coming to the library. It's an empowering and motivating way to approach our work.

Olwen Bell Learning Resources Assistant, UK

I have picked up a lot of tips and ideas from the course and will be using them over the next months to make the library space more exciting. I have de-cluttered some of the areas and this has made a big difference. We are hoping to make more room on the shelves to show off our collections better.

Helen Wood College of Building Library, UK

The course was very interesting, I have picked up some helpful hints for when readers ask for recommendations and I can suggest appropriate titles even if I have not read them myself. It also made me look at some of the collections at my library in a new light. I certainly would recommend it. We all have occasions when readers ask for our recommendation of a new book that is outside our usual reading tastes. This module provides a toolbox to aid library staff to access the whole of their collections to locate titles that will match their readers' interests.

Nick Overfield Eyemouth Library, Scottish Borders

I enjoyed this course because it helped me with ways on understanding books without having to read them. Recommending books is a big role of a librarian and I thought this course helped with that. The course gave me the chance to talk to students about what they would like to see in the library. What I enjoyed about the length and time of this course, was that it was always open and there was not a rush to finish it in a certain amount of time. I have been in my job for two months now, and my focus has been on teaching some classes, preparing lessons for the academic part of the library, and Follet Destiny training. That is to say there were many days where I could not focus on this course. I like that it was interesting, saved my progress, and I was able to go back to those sections whenever I wanted. I would recommend this course to librarians who would like to know their collection better. And to those who don't feel very comfortable recommending books. I would add that I like the practical side to this course. Applying what you learn is great. The exercises make the course a lot more engaging and worth the time invested in it.

Jessica Ramirez British International School, Colombia

I underestimated what this course could offer me as I thought it would be 'Just Another One of those Courses'. I am so happy to eat humble pie. This course was extremely enlightening, thank you.

Charles Cooper Clare Library, Republic of Ireland

I thought it was very informative. I enjoyed getting out there and getting the readers’ opinions. Due to my professional knowledge of libraries and customer service, I found this course very helpful in different ways of doing reader advisory as this is my specialty. I would recommend this course to anyone starting or wanting to start in the library profession.

Janet Dee Upper Hutt City Library, New Zealand

I think this sampling of observations I have from this course will be a helpful jumping off point to working with staff and creating change moving forward. It has been a really interesting course and will serve as a good starting point for understanding our customers and improving our services.

Kaitlin Quick Mid-Columbia Libraries, USA

The most useful thing I have learnt is the importance of displays, how they are displayed and what they are displaying. I've seen many more books coming off the display since the gaps were filled up and some interesting, but not subject-specific, books were put up. The underused fiction section also looks much friendlier than a random row of books now that it has some colourful ones facing out. Now just to keep it all up.

Zoe Tolman City of Oxford College LRC, UK

The information is set up in nice chunks to complete in 20-30 minute blocks, which is great for a busy schedule. The science behind successful retail displays was very interesting - really makes you think about the stores (and the libraries!) who do well, and how much that can be linked to great displays. It makes you think about displays and how much power they have to create a user experience in a library. Seeing clean, enticing, varied books in a display will make people feel good about themselves - and this course tells you how anyone can achieve such a display.

Penny Cowell City of Tea Tree Gully Library, South Australia

This has been a really interesting and fun course. The main thing I learnt was how to showcase and display our stock to its greatest advantage. We have a lot of quite full shelves, and we've never really done much with them. As soon as I put books face on in a very underused section, it got looked at, and after a busy Saturday had been decimated! Which is really positive and gave us the enthusiasm to do more of this elsewhere in the library. I found looking at different book covers closely and being very selective of title choice really interesting too. I recognise that in the past I may not have made the best choices in books. All round a great course, very enjoyable and beneficial.

Alexis Filby Central Children’s & Young People’s Library, UK

I would love all our staff to do it! It's so important for everyone to be aware of the need to present our collections in the best way possible for our patrons. Bring out the gems, show people just what libraries have to offer and to make the library a place people want to visit regularly. Give people a great experience every time they visit, make the library a modern, up to date go to place. Learning the importance of displays and how and what to display are skills that all library staff need to acquire and this course definitely delivers this.

Alison Lloyd City of Tea Tree Gully Library, Australia

The display stands down at Kaiapoi Library have been well received, with books going off regularly and people browsing through them. With non-fiction located upstairs, we have been able to highlight the variety of books on offer that the customer may not have been aware of. It is important for the areas to be clear of clutter and with good signage.

Jeanette Busch Kaiapoi Library, New Zealand

I have seen so much benefit from Opening the Book online training, in the Victoria-wide rollout and in my own library service. I continue to use it because it’s the only training I’ve come across that focuses on reader-centred library practice. It is an ideal blend of theory and practical, delivered through a user-friendly online platform. It has also evolved over time, in response to user feedback and needs, making the training as relevant today as it was when I first encountered it. A lot of library staff I have worked with say it’s the best training they have ever done. They describe the course content as inspiring and even nourishing. It changes their perspective and allows them to look with fresh eyes at their work in engaging readers. For many, it’s a reminder of why they decided to work in libraries in the first place.

Shirley Bateman Melbourne Libraries, Australia

I think the main thing I have benefited from is feeling braver with my choices for the displays. As we are single manned I have probably kept the displays as very simple, having had nobody to bounce ideas off, and it has been wonderful to see how others have tackled the ideas given to the tasks.

Ann Stubbs Boddam Library, Scotland

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