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Tech Training for Staff: California Tech Core Competencies. Sarah Houghton-Jan Information & Web Services Manager, San Mateo County Library Technology competencies are a list of things staff should know how to do with technology in order to do their jobs.

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Tech Training for Staff: California Tech Core Competencies

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tech training for staff california tech core competencies

Tech Training for Staff:California Tech Core Competencies

Sarah Houghton-Jan

Information & Web Services Manager,

San Mateo County Library

Technology competencies are a list of things staff should know how to do with technology in order to do their jobs.
you don t need competencies if
You don’t need competencies if
  • …every staff member is an expert in every technology you are currently using.
  • …every staff member is self-motivated to keep up with new technologies and self-train on everything.
you do need competencies if
You do need competencies if
  • Some staff know more than others
  • You want everyone to be able to help your users equally
you do need competencies if5
You do need competencies if
  • Your library is adding new technologies to the workplace
  • The library lacks a coordinated technology training program
cla s competencies
CLA’s Competencies
  • Competencies for California Librarians in the 21st Century (1998):


  • Technology Core Competencies for California Library Workers (2005): tech_core_competencies.pdf
cla tech competencies
CLA Tech Competencies
  • Developed by a taskforce of CLA members from the Information Technology Section and the Continuing Education Committee.
  • Two sections: All Staff & Additional Targeted Competencies for Reference, Instructional, and Management Staff
  • The Assembly and Executive Board approved the competencies.
purpose of cla tech comps
Purpose of CLA Tech Comps

This set of competencies is intended to serve as a base model for technology competencies among California Library Workers. California's libraries are incredibly diverse; there are many different types and sizes of libraries, different staffing, and different technology. The purpose of these competencies is not to be the guidepost by which all libraries measure technology skills, but rather to serve as a starting point for libraries to use in assessing their staff's technology proficiencies, and to assist libraries in building their own sets of tailored competencies to fit with their unique staff and library.

From Competencies Introduction

cla competencies sample
CLA Competencies Sample


  • Know what security software is used on staff and public computers and how it protects the computers
  • Identify spam
  • Be aware of the potential security and privacy threats while using email and the Internet (including cookies, downloading malicious files, unsecured communications, viruses, e-mail hoaxes, spyware, adware, and phishing)
how will competencies help
How will competencies help?
  • Job descriptions
  • Evaluations
  • Reveals training needs
  • Addresses feelings of inequity
  • Help staff adjust and handle change
ten questions before starting
Ten Questions Before Starting
  • What is your purpose? Write it out!
  • Who does the lead work?
    • project manager and/or team
  • Who identifies the competencies?
    • Position reps, management, how many people?
  • Tech competencies or all competencies?
  • Core or extensive list?
ten questions before starting13
Ten Questions Before Starting
  • What constitutes technology?
  • Specific to the hardware and software you have now, or more general?
  • Do you have a timeline in mind?
  • Base on classification, position, location, or pay step?
  • Base on full-time/part-time/substitute, or desire for promotion/bonus?
the competency cycle
The Competency Cycle

Brainstorming Creation Assessment Training Reassessment

getting staff buy in
Getting Staff Buy In
  • Have a purpose statement.
  • Ask staff for their input and use it.
  • Keep everyone informed at all steps.
  • Reassure staff that they don’t have to have all competencies now.
  • Train managers first (if possible).
  • Managers must allow staff to attend training.
brainstorming for the leaders
Brainstorming for the leaders
  • Literature search (find articles & competencies)
  • Existing position descs. or requirements
  • Professional associations’ requirements
  • Library’s strategic goals
  • What do your customers need to know?
brainstorming for everyone else
Brainstorming for everyone else
  • Elicit input from staff through:
    • brainstorming session
    • e-mail discussion group
    • Blog or wiki
    • committees
  • Elicit input from outside experts and stakeholders (consultants, governing bodies, public, students)
competency types
Competency Types
  • Descriptive
    • “Understand how e-mail folders work to create an organized file-keeping system.”
  • Task-based
    • “Delete e-mails, move e-mails between folders, and archive old e-mails.”

Maybe some of each…

structure options
Structure Options

Organize by staff position or area

  • Reference, Circulation, Tech Services, Management, Library Assistant 1, Reference Librarian (Adult), Reference Librarian (Kids)

Organize by competency

  • Allow local managers to determine if the competency applies to their staff
organizational options
Organizational Options
  • Split into personal vs. professional competencies
  • Basic competencies and accelerated / advanced competencies
categories broad
Categories: Broad
  • Hardware
  • Software
  • Skills

Gratuitous cat photo, since the slide was kind of empty

Source prefers to remain anonymous

categories moderate
Categories: Moderate
  • Terminology
  • Hardware
  • Software
  • Security
  • Troubleshooting
  • Library Resources
  • Search Skills
  • Public Computers

California Library Association

categories specific
Categories: Specific
  • Computer Operation/Setup/Maintenance
  • Word Processing/Introducory Desktop Publishing
  • Spreadsheet/Graphics
  • Databases
  • Networking
  • Knowledge Areas
  • Telecommunications
  • Media Communications and Integration
  • Design and Management of Learning Environment and Resources
  • Learning Diversity
  • Social/Legal/Ethical Issues
  • Building Level Technical Support
  • Etc.

Colorado Dept. of Education

format options
Format Options
  • Format can include one or both elements: the competency and the assessment tool
  • Formatting could be…
    • Grid
    • Short Outline
    • Narrative paragraphs

Library Resources

  • Be familiar with and able to locate the library’s technology-related policies & procedures
  • Be familiar with the library’s intranet, if applicable
  • Be familiar with the library’s e-resources
    • Know the webpage address for your library
    • Know what resources can be found on your library homepage
    • Know the webpage address for the library’s catalog
    • Know how to search by author, title, keyword, and subject in the catalog

California Library Association


The operating system is the software foundation that enables computers to process information, manipulate data, and provide output to users. It stands to reason that a rudimentary knowledge of how it functions is critical if staff are to be successful in manipulating the information resources. Staff must have a working knowledge of the platform on which their computers sit, an understanding of the interface and desktop environment, the ability to format floppy disks, the ability to create and manage files, and a thorough understanding of how to gain access to the various networks available from a given platform.

Upper Hudson Library System

text or web
Text or web?
  • Use a text or web option
    • Word document
    • Blog with entries for each competency (tagged)
    • Wiki
    • Simple HTML page

Web options would allow hyperlinks from each competency to a brief “how-to”.

include inspiring competencies
Include Inspiring Competencies
  • Include ongoing learning:

“Continually develops skills in using technological tools” (King County Library)

  • Include critical thinking:

“Demonstrating an understanding of the library’s role and responsibility for introducing applications of technology to the public.” and

“Demonstrating willingness to step outside of the box to achieve and maintain smooth library operations.” (U Alabama U Libraries)

competency tips
Competency Tips
  • Beware subjective adjectives
  • If using self-assessments, have three choices: yes, no, or maybe
  • Provide a technology terms glossary
  • All new-hires should complete the assessment
  • Objective assessment (test or quiz)
    • Automated by computer
    • Manually by supervisor
  • Subjective assessment
    • Self assessing from a


  • Who reviews the results

of the assessments?

Authority Important

assessment tools
Assessment Tools
  • Online (on the cheap)
    • User SurveyMonkey etc.
    • Create simple webform
  • Paper
    • Multiple choice quiz
    • Essay questions
    • True/false questions
    • Simple Checklist of skills
no training no point
No Training = No Point

Training should be viewed as a necessity, not a luxury; as mandatory, not voluntary; and as comprehensive, not superficial…. The consequence of poor training will be that our users will lose confidence in librarians…

-- A. Krissoff and L. Konrad. “Computer Training for Staff and Patrons.” Computers in Libraries, Janusary 1998, Vol. 18 Issue 1.

scheduled learning
Scheduled Learning
  • One-on-one buddy system training
  • Location-by-location training for common and important topics
  • Large centralized group training
    • Consultants, in-house trainers?
  • Hold each session at least twice!!!
unscheduled learning
Unscheduled Learning
  • Give staff 15 minutes a day to study/learn.
  • Schedule 1 off-desk hour specifically for self-study.
  • Encourage conference attendance.
  • Online tutorials, printed materials, demos.
public library of charlotte and mecklenberg county
Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenberg County
  • Learning 2.0 Initiative
  • Blog:
  • “23 Things”
  • Finishing staff received MP3 players
preparing a training session
Preparing a Training Session
  • Chunk out the various topics
  • Clarify the purpose of the training
  • Decide the session format
  • Prepare a lesson plan
  • Have take-away handouts
  • Advertise the class to all staff in multiple media
during the training session
During the Training Session
  • Teach new procedures sequentially
  • Stop for questions (count to ten)
  • Periodically ask for group comprehension
  • Interactive and collaborative
  • Follow-up sessions, especially when teaching a new procedure

© Kevin Eikenberry Group

training tips
Training Tips
  • Increase training budget
  • Keep trainings under 2 hours.
  • Open trainings to all staff…period.
  • If using buddy system, match skill levels.
  • Set goals and rewards
  • Use real world examples
  • There is such a thing as “untrainable.”
    • What to do?
holding people to it
Holding People to It
  • Annual reviews
  • Goal-setting
  • Rewards for success
  • Consequences for failure
    • Ongoing training
    • Transfer
    • Pay step decrease
    • Demotion
but sarah you re so mean
But Sarah, you’re so mean!

If staff don’t meet the bare minimum required to do the job, who suffers?

  • Other staff
  • The image of the library
  • The customers

Allowing that is what’s mean.

determining success
Determining Success
  • Compare first round of assessments to assessments after each round of training
  • Survey staff before and after about their confidence in their abilities
  • Use anecdotal evidence from tech staff, patrons, managers

Brainstorming Creation Assessment Training Reassessment

Review competencies periodically

New competencies require new training

other good tech competencies
Other Good Tech Competencies
  • St. Michael’s College Library:
  • The Library Network:
  • Oakland Public Library (from ’98, but still good):
  • ALA Gov Docs RoundTable:
other resources
Other Resources
  • My upcoming book (Spring) for ALA Library Technology Reports
  • “Skills for the 21st Century Librarian” by Meredith Farkas:
  • “20 Technology Skills Every Educator Should Have” by Laura Turner:
to sum up
To sum up….
  • Use the CLA and other competencies as a starting point
  • Customize the competencies to meet your own organization
  • Follow the circle of competencies process

See your staff’s tech knowledge grow!