Hands on Digital Information Literacy Training from Peers is Preferred by Public Service Library Staff
Keywords:employee training, digital information literacy
AbstractA Review of:
Robertson, R. (2014). Reframing ourselves: Digital information literacy skills of frontline public library staff. New Zealand Library and Information Management Journal, 53(3). doi:10.1080/00048623.2011.10722203
Objective – To explore how and where public library employees acquire digital information literacy (DIL) skills.
Design – Qualitative study using semi-structured interviews.
Setting – Two public libraries in New Zealand.
Subjects – Nine front line public library staff members.
Methods – A convenience sample of nine library employees was interviewed about their existing DIL skills, how and where they learned them, any barriers to this learning, and how they defined DIL in others. Interviewees ranged in age from 40 to 64 and included both those new to libraries and those with over 25 years in the profession. The interview transcripts were analyzed for key themes and placed in the theoretical framework of Kolb’s experiential learning cycle (Robertson, 2014).
Main Results – Five participants described their own DIL skills as average or below average. The remaining participants classified their skills as above average. Participants recounted acquiring DIL skills in the course of their work through formal workplace training sessions, peer support, or individual exploration; through personal exploration of tools on their own time; or through a mix of work and personal learning opportunities. The barriers they identified to their learning included insufficient time to train and practice the skills learned and the lack of access to relevant technologies. Participants noted problems such as accessing key hardware and insufficient Internet connectivity at work because of issues with organizational infrastructure and at home due to personal financial constraints. Participants largely preferred informal hands-on training by peers to formal training sessions, which were described by some as too general or held too far in advance of the implementation of new technology. The data suggested participants largely fell into Kolb’s accommodating or diverging learning styles because of their preference for “concrete experience” (Robertson, 2014).
Conclusion – Libraries may improve staff acquisition of DIL skills by increasing hands on learning opportunities and providing dedicated time to review and practice skills learned. Other suggestions included identifying potential digital peer mentors among staff and providing them with the necessary resources (time, money, and a defined role) to support their colleagues, breaking training into parts allowing time for practice, creating training plans tied to performance evaluation, and using incentives to encourage staff to participate in self-directed training.
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