June 2008

Two posts you just gotta see (guaranteed you’ll get some useful ideas!)

  1. Janie Hermann’s interview with Jon Jiras of RIT Libraries talking about their amazing “Food For Thought” Continuing Ed. program.
  2. Janie’s follow up with Jon, reporting on this year’s (crazy successful) program.

For complete info on the Food for Thought program, see the Food for Thought Homepage. Thanks for sharing all of this wonderful info Jon, and thanks for blogging it Janie!


In my last post (many, many moons ago!), I discussed some key factors to consider while evaluating learning management systems.  If you have already made the jump and purchased an LMS or are on the verge of purchasing, you have more factors to consider when setting up your system.  Let me share a few more nuggets of insight from the trenches:


v     Content is king: If you shopped smartly, then your LMS should already include a library of courseware from a reputable content vendor, such as Skillsoft.  These our-of-the-box e-learning solutions are great for building and enhancing basic job competencies, such as customer service, management and leadership, and software skills.  However, the crux for public libraries is finding content specifically for us – content that enhances focused, job-specific competencies, like readers’ advisory, providing services to teens, or advocating for funding.


When you are building up your library of content in your LMS, do not overlook the wealth of free resources, such as archived webinars or self-paced courses, provided by powerhouses such as the SirsiDynix Institute or Webjunction.  Also remember that many database vendors have free training presentations or webinars archived as well.  Finally, compile a list of all the knowledge objects you currently have available in-house that you can add to your system.


v     Accessing the knowledge: So now you have mountains of content, but how will your users access it?  Your LMS will definitely have a search the catalog feature, but you should be extremely thoughtful of how you assign categories during the initial setup.  Many of your staff members will want to browse the categories to see what’s available.  Think about how your staff currently searches for training resources.  If you already have a library of training materials that is organized by category or subject, consider using those as starting point for assigning categories.


v     Permissions: Inevitably, how you assign permissions in your LMS is tied to your organization’s culture.  Is authority in your library highly centralized?  Do you have much local autonomy?  Be cognizant of your culture before you begin assigning permissions.  For example, will you set up your system so that any staff member can create a log in on their own, or will the LMS administrator assign logins, or a combination of both?  Can any staff member, regardless of position or relevance of training content to their current position, register for any course in the LMS?     


Hopefully, you will find these tips useful in the not-so-easy task of implementing your LMS.

Speaking of Lori Reed, she will be sharing her expertise in a WebJunction Learning Webinar on Cultivating a Culture of Learning in the Library. I like the sound of that. Her topic extends the thread of discussion on this blog about training and informal learning and a focus on outcomes. 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

Webinar details

If you need any confirmation of Lori’s creativity and dedication to learning, check out this tutorial she put together as part of PLCMC’s Learning 2.0 project: 7 1/2 Habits of Highly Successful Lifelong Learners.