maandag 15 februari 2010

Education for librarians

For the new sector institute for public libraries (siob) I am currently making an inventory of educational opportunies for library directors, middle management and front office. It concerns an inventory for internal use only at the moment, and it will serve as background documentation for the sector institute to determine their own course regarding potential developments of professional training and education. Frankly I am astounded by the wealth of training, workshops, masterpogrammes, post bachelor programmes and sector specific training available. 
Based on what the preliminary inventory I have made so far, from my professonial opinion I would say that there are three major points for action. The first action point is to disclose the wealth of programmes available for libraries. By disclosing I mean to categorize (as I am already doing in a very simple way) in a databse, structured per target group, subject, etc. This is not as simple as it sounds (see my blog on website struggles:-)) but I do think that it would be a first major win. Secondly I think that to somehow relate the available courses to competency profiles and job profiles would be helpful, but I would make that part of a larger marketing and educational effort. Because so much is available but knowing the (public) library I would say that you also need to stimulate them to look for training that goes beyond the day to day work, that introduces a dimension rather more on the process level. This could be done by a strong content related marketing effort, thus also educating the (public) library sector on the power of education. Which they usually deliver but to what extent are they themselves taking a professional stance on their own professional education? An open question, to which I think the answer will vary enormously. Thirdly I would think that it would be useful to offer a workform that allows people, notably directors en management, to make the translation from more generic master and post bachelor programmes to the specific (public) library sector. From my experience in similar trajectories for notably science centers, public libraries and project management trainings I have given, this translation to the specific environment, with its particular (unwritten) laws supports the participants to actually apply the knowledge in their own work. Thus progressing the public library sector.
And then there are other possibilities that could be explored such as negotiating framework contracts with training programmes to establish discounts for library participants. Contentwise the option that I would see as an opportunity as well is to develop a specific strategic librarianship programme, focussing on developing the library for the future. Here some librarians already discussed this, but having made the preliminary inventory now I would be able to give some more direction. I feel it should at any rate include a futures thinking component, teaching about scenario making, strategic business thinking about innovation and development, some risk analysis component and a cross over with industry where it is widely known how innovation work (many, many failures:-). That would be first inclination, I'll let future thoughts on this know. I now just need some time to let it all sink in.
Probably this week somewhere my client and I will take a closer look at this first inventory and we will have some preliminary discussions on the next step. I'll keep you posted, but meanwhile: should you have any library training that I should be aware of, let me know! And the same for any thoughts you might have re librarians training, education, and needs for education.

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