Hands-on e-reader training for library staff: The NTLP success story

Last year’s Pew Internet report on Libraries, patrons, and e-books looked at how libraries are responding to the growing popularity of e-books. The study found that, “Librarians often are anxious about the new set of demands on them to learn about the operations of new gadgets” and had positive experiences with hands-on training.  In this article, we’ll overview a successful hands-on e-reader training initiative in Texas.

NTLP's e-reader project

NTLP is a nonprofit organization, which was previously the North Texas Regional Library System.  Since Texas library systems are no longer funded by the state, NTLP is now a privately funded organization that facilitates collaborative library services and advocates on behalf of libraries. NTLP focuses on new opportunities for libraries and supports sustainable and transformational projects in libraries.

One of NTLP’s recent projects has been hands-on e-reader labs (funded in part by a grant from IMLS and Texas State Library and Archives Commission).Through this project, ten Texas public libraries each received a set of three popular e-reader devices.  The libraries could use the devices for staff training, for assisting patrons, and for conducting e-reader petting zoo events. NTLP also encouraged libraries to offer demonstrations to their city councils or library boards to assist with decision-making about e-book related library services. 

Training

In addition to providing devices to the ten public libraries, NTLP also provided training. The UNT Health Science Center Gibson D. Lewis Library Outreach Department partnered with NTLP to develop and deliver the training, which included hands-on exercises with the devices that had been selected for purchase through the grant (Kindle, Nook Simple Touch, and Nook Color).

During the training, participants:

  • Gained basic familiarity with the devices.
  • Practiced downloading content from Overdrive and Project Gutenberg.
  •  Attended a petting zoo with over 20 e-reader and tablet devices, at which they learned techniques for managing their own petting zoo.  
  • Received training about how to provide one-on-one assistance to patrons with e-reader devices.

The training was incredibly popular. When applying for the grant, NTLP had planned to present the e-reader training 3 times, at locations convenient for the staff from the 10 participating libraries. Once the training was announced and opened up to staff from other libraries, the demand led to NTLP doubling the number of training sessions. Even after presenting 6 training sessions in 5 locations, NTLP had a waiting list of librarians hoping for repeat sessions in the future.  In all, the training reached 122 librarians from 47 libraries. Commenting on the success of the training, NTLP Director of Internet Services Judy Daniluk says,

Many libraries sent multiple staff members, as many as 10 or 11 persons from some libraries, even in this time of reduced budgets for travel and training. There was an incredible thirst for this type of face-to-face, hands-on training.”

Visit the project website for access to:

What Next?

Throughout the materials, users are reminded that the content was created in December 2012/January 2013 and that it will quickly be out-of-date. This is a constantly evolving topic and training and resource needs will evolve, too. During the remainder of the grant, NTLP will continue to add to the project website. NTLP also hopes to be able to repeat the e-reader training sessions in the future, but since the grant-purchased devices have now been distributed to the ten public libraries, they would need to acquire additional devices to be used for hands-on training exercises (or else restructure the training curriculum to omit the hands-on exercises).

Kudos to NTLP for their work on this project and thanks to them for their generous sharing of their story and the resources created for the training. The Edge benchmarks for public access technology recommend offering structured and scheduled technology instruction on patron owned devices in the Community Value section under Benchmark One and this is an excellent example of the types of staff training that can help prepare librarians to offer that type of technology instruction. See this recent TechSoup for Libraries post for more gadget instruction success stories. See also Jeffie Nicholson's post about Gadget Zoos. See also the webinar: E-readers for Everyone: Teaching Tips from Trainers.

 

Do you have a library technology success story you would like to share? Email us at techsoupforlibraries@techsoupglobal.org.

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