Library-Wide IT Proficiency Preconference
Presented by Brenda Chawner and Grace Sines
This session was very informative. The preconference covered technology competency frameworks, understanding proficiency issues, discussion on what makes a good IT staff and IT fundamentals. One major point made was that in order to be successful in this process each of need to know our end users needs.
The first thing that is needed is a list of competencies. Most of the time you need minimum levels that everyone will need to know and then a second tier or level that is based more on specialistâ€™s or higher level competencies. Some lists are broken down by department or even job type and job level. Most competencies need to be task based so that it is easier to demonstrate and measure.
When developing these competencies involve a range of staff so that all aspects are included. Consulting existing lists can also help you develop one that is relevant to your organization or library. Also, putting an angle of gaining something by attaining additional competencies make people work harder to achieve those goals. Defining IT competencies will also require the need for assessments. Competencies need to be tied to the evaluations but not without warning. Never refer to specific operating systems or products in the competencies because it is an ever-changing.
Some challenges that present themselves are the fact that many that are unfamiliar with technology are afraid of breaking it. In order for this to work however you have to empower and enable staff with certain IT proficiencies. Communication is a key factor because staff and faculty have to know what is expected out of them. Always remember that when someone calls panicking, that their problem is an emergency to them. Be sensitive.
The first part of this preconference was a lot of group discussion to get input and ideas on how we perceived a competency program working and what collective and specific needs would most likely need to be addressed.
End users need to have confidence in themselves and trust their judgment, it is a culture change. They also do not need to be fearful of change or of breaking things. Also, be aware of global affects and know how things are affecting everything else. If all else fails, Make it FUN.
Many discussed their individual liaison programs and how they are setup and the responsibilities. One of the criteria should be a desire to learn. Many that attended said they allow the supervisors of the areas/branches to determine who the representative in their area. Expectations of this group were also discussed.
The Good, Bad, & Ugly Meetings:
The best way to have a successful IT group is to LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN. One example was to have meetings with the different areas or the entire library and ask them; What do you not like, what do you like, what are we doing right, what are we doing wrong, etc. Do not respond to any comment made at the meetings just take it all down. Take all comments back for review and then comment back.
Another good idea that was presented was having a primer for new employees. This would give new folks an understanding of what the IT department does as well as the structure and responsibilities of that group.
Training can come in many fashions. Technology changes so rapidly that it is easy to get left behind. Some examples of training possibilities are listed: Free or low cost, online, expert knowledge of co-workers, mentoring programs, etc. Or you could go with fee based training like subscriptions, online classes, webinars, and onsite training.
This preconference was very helpful. It not only allowed us to share information and knowledge on how we perceive proficiencies, liaisons, and training but it also allowed us to find out that we are all in the same boat. Many of the needs were similar across the many represented libraries. A number of handouts were given as well as a few examples of forms that these ladies use. The presenters also issued a cd to participants that included all PowerPoint slides, examples of IT proficiencies, and a primer.