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Large percentages of libraries are now very dependent on technology, for the performance of at least some of their services. Few, if any, large or even medium-sized libraries now exist that are not almost forced to lock their doors and close down completly when their computer systems go down. Library systems are now usually integrated systems that handle most basic library functions. Local networks provide productivity software that includes such things as word processors and spreadsheet programs. This means that library staff members usually spend a large part of their workday now at a personal computer or terminal. Practically every full-time staff member would benefit from some training on some software package or system upgrades.

There are three types of technology training needs that libraries must provide: existing staff, new hires, and customers. Not only paid staff, but also the volunteers need to be included in the training.

One option of where to turn for training is vendors. Especially those vendors that handle the integrated library systems and those that sell electronic products. Most system vendors charge for their training, unfortunately. This usually means that newly hired staff has to receive their training from the existing staff. If the existing staff members fully understand the system, this works fine. Vendors of electronic products are usually forced by marketing needs to offer free training which is a service the library should take full advantage of, especially when you realize that the service is built into the cost of the product.

The least desirable approach to staff development is attempting to do in-house training passed on the documentation provided by the vendor. Sometimes, however, this is the only option that is immediately available. The most cost-effective approach which this is your only option is the have the most experienced person to work through the vendor materials and then teach other staff members. A mentor approach is often effective if the product affects most of the departments in the library. The way this works is that one person in each department becomes the expert and works with his or her fellow colleges in the department as their teacher.

Seeking out workshops that are offered by various library groups is another training option. Most vendors have user groups that are made up of the customers that use the product and who have some voice in how the product changes. These groups often have regional groupings that hold occasional meetings at which experiences are exchanged, as well as workshops on a new upgrade or module. Sometimes library consortia acquire an electronic product or service and then arrange for one or more workshops for staff member on how to use the item. Other sources for job related workshops include state, regional, and national library associations. There are now many programs designed for librarians and support staff by these associations. The problem is that the particular training that is needed may not be available when that library needs it.

Another matter is training for the productivity software. The library must either handle it in-house or use commercial training organizations if the parent organization for the library doesn’t provide the training. For most of the widely used software programs there is usually commercial training available in most of the larger communities. There are usually several levels to this training such as beginning, intermediate, and advance. This also hope of having the training at the level needed. The price for such training is often $300-$400 for six hours of training, per person. Professional and commercial groups are also sources for various management, supervision, and customer service training.

Introduction to Library Public Services, Sixth Ed., By G. Edward Evans, Anthony J. Amodeo, and Thomas L. Carter.
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