July 2008


Lori Reed‘s June Learning Webinar presentation was so well-received that WebJunction asked her back for a repeat performance.

Cultivating a Culture of Learning in the Library
When: Tuesday, August 5, 2008, 1:00 PM Central Time

How much time does your library spend on “training?” Statistics show that most learning takes place on the job or with a coworker, yet, as trainers, we spend an inordinate amount of time preparing for and delivering classroom training. In this webinar you will learn why you need to get your staff out of the classroom and instead focus on creating a culture of learning in your library.

Lori will explore:

  • The differences between training and learning
  • The benefits to libraries for creating a culture of learning
  • The key elements of a learning organization
  • Tips for creating a culture of learning in any size library

Please register for this webinar here: http://evanced.info/webjunction/evanced/eventsignup.asp?ID=1502

If you are a regular reader of the CLENExchange, you may remember the book review of Card Games by Thiagi, written by then CLENE President, Pat Taviss for the September 2007 issue. Pat described Sivasailam “Thiagi” Thiagarajan as “an international game master with a reputation for creating engaging games that enhance and support learning.” As the CLENExchange editor, I added an editor’s note to her review about my memories both of seeing Thiagi at an American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) conference in 1988 and attending his 2-day workshop in 1990.

As I frequently tell trainers I meet about the impact Thiagi’s training made on me, I was delighted to receive an email today with a link to a wonderful YouTube video titled Rapid Instructional Design with Thiagi. The April 2008 program was sponsored by the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) Training Forum. The email came from Gail Griffith, Deputy Director of the Carroll County (MD) Public Library, responsible for public services and staff development and a CLENE member. I wrote about connecting with Gail as a part of my research for a December 2005 CLENExchange article on Elliot Masie’s Learning 2005 global conference; there is also a profile of Gail in that issue.

Back to the video …the description reads, “Learn how Thiagi and his team undertake complex instructional design projects without the use of time-consuming, low value added traditional ISD models. Thiagi has created, tested and successfully applied his own model that produces rapid prototypes tomorrow.” I urge you not to miss this opportunity to learn and be mesmerized by a master. For more information, tips and tricks from Thiagi, visit his website too.

 

Come play with Thiagi

Come play with Thiagi

The new WebJunction is coming… and it looks hot! Check out this sneak preview guided tour led by Michael Porter and Dale Musselman. It’s very social networky, and I mean that in the best sense. Librarians familiar with Facebook will probably feel right at home.

If player isn’t working, go directly to: http://blip.tv/play/AwGN61M

Once again, CLENE events at ALA were sizzling. The pre-conference workshops on Friday were filled to capacity and the Training Showcase on Sunday afternoon was the place to be. In between sipping lemonade and munching pretzels, I talked myself hoarse in two hours of conversation with the steady flow of library trainers and supervisors. What a dynamic subset of the library world—so full of ideas and energy.

Find slide presentations and handouts from all events In the CLENE section of the ALA Conference Materials Archive.

  • Competencies For Your Staff: From Implementation to Integration (morning pre-conference)
  • Implementing A Staff Development Plan (afternoon pre-conference)
  • CLENE Training Showcase

My ALA experience was so packed with meetings this year that I only got to one session— Professional Development Around the World. This one was a high priority for me, combining my deep interest in how libraries operate around the world and my interest in lifelong learning for library staff.

Through the admirable efforts of organizations like Read Global, Lubuto, and others, developing countries are tasting the fruits of what a library can do for their communities. But providing the buildings and the materials is only the first step toward assuring enduring, quality service.

I would ask any library worker who frets about continuing education in our system to stop and think about the enormity of having to start from absolute scratch. The Read Global program in Nepal offers 21-day seminars for library staff that begin with a module on “what is a library?” before moving on to the more technical subjects of cataloging, book repair, or reference. The program also includes training for the villagers on how to use a library and for community leaders on how to steward the library. Oh, the things we take for granted.

A group of this year’s Emerging Leaders undertook to provide access to free, online professional development opportunities through its IRRT Free Links project. Using a wiki in combination with del.icio.us feeds, the group aggregated an impressive array of links to free online technology resources that “will help international librarians stay current with library information and trends in the United States and elsewhere.” Since most of the resources are in English, this list is just as useful for training needs here in North America. I only wonder if the group will ever open up the wiki permissions to allow others to add resources.

Another perspective from the opposite side of the globe resonated more with the training challenges we face here. Dr. Gillian Hallam, from very developed, even cutting-edge Australia, posed the provocative question, “Professional development: whose responsibility is it?” The answer is that responsibility is shared: managers, trainers, and professional associations all play a role, but it is the individual who has the “obligation to yourself to keep up-to-date, develop new skills, knowledge and confidence to ensure you have a successful and rewarding career.” The Australian Library and Information Association has implemented a 3-year professional development scheme with an accompanying career development kit to facilitate learning. So far, the voluntary participation is running at about 8%. Makes me wonder what the motivation/participation ratio would look like between library staff in developing versus developed countries.

An interesting thing is happening in the San Francisco East Bay area: a local chapter of the American Society for Training & Development is becoming the trainer-teacher-learner’s version of a literary salon, and its community of members has increased by nearly 33 percent (from 62 to 82 members) in less than six months.

 

Here’s how it’s evolving: Three of us who work on programming for the ASTD Mt. Diablo Chapter’s monthly two-hour dinner meetings at the Crow Canyon Country Club in Danville decided to build off of the Chapter’s tradition of bringing in the best available speakers on the interrelated topics of training, leadership, and human resources; we encouraged presenters to use engaging, cutting-edge presentation styles while playing off of the camaraderie which existed within the small group of 10 or 15 repeat attendees.

 

Chapter member Steven Cerri, presenting on the topic “Why Most Training Isn’t Sticky and What to Do About It” at the Chapter’s April meeting, didn’t just cover the topic effectively; he frequently called attention to the techniques he was using and, as a result, kept the event lively, personal, and sticky for the audience he was addressing. And that’s when the magic began: the regulars had never been shy about engaging speakers and each other throughout the monthly formal presentations, but they upped the ante—and made the experience memorable—by being part of the discussion rather than sitting back, listening passively, and politely asking questions while Steven stood before them. And when the hour-long formal program was over, people didn’t quickly empty the room. The discussion continued informally for at least another half hour.

 

Daren Blonski, VP of Leadership Development for Sonoma Learning Systems, inspired an equally engaging exchange the following month on the theme of what trainers need to know to function effectively in multigenerational workplaces. We worked together, as he prepared his PowerPoint slides, to incorporate a Cliff Atkinson Beyond Bullet Points style to his presentation—creating a visual narrative flow from slide to slide without using much text. The level of engagement between Daren and the other participants—it would be inaccurate and unfair to refer to them as an “audience” in this context—was electric. Daren didn’t even use all the slides he had prepared; he took advantage of the lively interactions to cover the material, and the discussion continued informally for almost 45 minutes after the monthly meeting was formally adjourned.

 

Provokare Presentations Founder Roberto Giannicola, at the Chapter’s June meeting, took the process over the top. With visually stimulating slides, a puckishly engaging sense of humor, and a presentation virtually free of bullet points (except when he was using them to show how ineffective they can be), he set an enormously high bar for all presenters who will follow him at Mt. Diablo Chapter dinner meetings. He facilitated a very lively discussion on how the combination of  imagery and storytelling creates effective learning experiences, and it was again with reticence that everyone parted ways nearly an hour after the meeting ended.

 

It hasn’t taken long for the word to spread. That small community of regulars in March has quickly expanded so that the Chapter’s meeting last night, featuring ASTD Senior Chapter Coach Scott Wilson (based in Washington, D.C., but traveling under the auspices of ASTD to serve as keynote speaker for the event), drew 32 participants—nearly half of them first-time attendees, and two of them returning after at least a few years away from the Chapter. One after another, they confirmed that they were drawn to Scott’s presentation on “Current Reports and Best Training Practices from ASTD’s National Office” because colleagues have been telling them about the “incredible energy” that is coming out of the Mt. Diablo Chapter presentations and discussions. And, of course, it was no surprise to find two people standing outside in that warm summer evening weather 90 minutes after Scott’s formal presentation ended last night. Which suggests that we may not be far from seeing after-meeting discussions which exceed the two-hour time frame for the formal dinners and presentations themselves.

 

For more information about the Chapter’s activities, please visit its website.

I’m not part of WebGen: I didn’t grow up wired, online, and connected to the world 24/7, and I do appreciate moments as well as hours of solitude. But, like most people who are honest about what is most important to them, I also value, crave, and am nurtured by community. So being in Anaheim for the annual American Library Association (ALA) conference earlier this month and spending every moment I could with colleagues in the library training-teaching-learning community provided lots of food for thought on the theme of what makes communities thrive when the Web 2.0 world and the face-to-face world of conferences with thousands of onsite participants converge.

 

The loosely knit community of trainer-teacher-learners who work in libraries throughout the United States—and who often feel incredibly isolated from each other, as evidenced by exchanges in the LibraryLearning Google Group started by Lori Reed less than a month ago—suddenly seems incredibly intimate and welcoming when you attend an American Library Association conference.

 

The central point of this convergence, for me, is my membership and increasing participation in CLENE—the Continuing Library Education and Networking Exchange (CLENE) training group. Right behind it are the overlapping connections resulting from the joint memberships and associations many of us seem to share through our affiliations with groups like Infopeople and the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD), and the online community of bloggers who so frequently and effectively build a sense of community where none might otherwise be found.

 

Although there were more than 20,000 library staff members in Anaheim for the annual conference, those of us interested in training-teaching-learning kept running into each other everywhere we went, and a large part of it was due to the community we’ve created through CLENE and its series of workshops; meetings; discussions; and its training showcase.

 

The group, like Infopeople, is fluid rather than rigidly structured. It’s welcoming. And it’s like being part of a large family where somebody is always bringing someone else home for dinner without bothering to phone ahead, knowing that there somehow will be enough food for everyone so no one will go to bed hungry that night. It’s the kind of group where everyone around the table jumps into the conversation, and everybody goes away enriched. It’s the kind of group where you’ll find the same sort of arguments and hurt feelings that come up whenever people let their guards down and say what they’re thinking, but we know that we’re not going to let the arguments and hard feelings go unacknowledged or unresolved. The result is that we’re always ready to get together again as soon as we possibly can to eat and talk some more.

 

And when we part ways, there’s already that numbing twinge of implied loss as we realize we probably won’t see each other again for at least six months—until we reconvene for the next conference which brings us all together. But what remains is the strength of collegial exchanges and the warmth we manage to create through a community of learning which benefits all of us and all we touch.

 

For more information about CLENE and how to join the group, please follow this link.

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