Santa Clara County Library District

Staff Training as an Essential Element

Staff training is essential and always a challenge to arrange and implement, especially in a busy county library system. The results of surveys conducted by the Santa Clara County Library District indicated a significant need and interest in staff training on investment and financial information reference strategies and resources. Less than 20% of respondents felt they understood the concepts and terminology needed to answer the majority of patrons’ questions about investments and finances. These results were corroborated by the findings of the Fast Facts Survey: Staff Training conducted by the Smart investing@your library®.

With data to support staff interest in this training the next step was to find a comprehensive introductory course. However, the course the reference librarians envisioned did not exist. So, they developed a new online staff training course in collaboration with Infopeople, the training arm of the California State Library.

Project leaders felt that one-off lectures without monitored practice would not adequately achieve their goal of developing reference staff’s knowledge and confidence answering investment and financial planning questions. Also, given the amount of content they wanted to cover, they felt an online course would be the most efficient and effective way to achieve this goal while minimizing the logistical impact of scheduling and delivering the training. Finally, an online course would be available as a reference guide and training resource for existing and new staff to review at anytime, anywhere.

Lessons Learned

• Internal marketing is important because not all staff will respond to the project in the same way. “Managers made it a point to attend the regular library staff service meetings to promote the financial literacy program and discuss what was going well or not, stated Adult Services Librarian Lisa Liu. Librarians with successful programs and feedback could share what was working and build enthusiasm for the project.”

• “We asked librarians with particular interest in business and investment reference work to share their expertise and take ownership of certain aspects of the project before the grant period ended,” Liu continued. Staff from the Business and Money team used their background and knowledge to keep topics current and the collections robust.”

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