Why should I learn about that when I’m busy with other stuff?


Any librarian who is running a Learning 2.0 (23 things) program or an Emerging Technologies group should listen with respect to staff that tell you:

  • their service points are too busy for them to play
  • they don’t understand how they can use new technologies in their jobs now
  • they would rather just read about them
  • they just want to be told which ones are relevant and just learn about those ones.

These people are not dumb grumps, they are usually people with busy jobs honestly expressing legitimate concerns. They are telling you where the bridge needs to be built.

Backroom disaster (3) uploaded to Flickr on September 1, 2006 by Travelin’ Librarian

Our Emerging Technologies Group involves weekly “hands on sessions” alternated with project work the next week.The group is voluntary and the hands on workshops have covered things like:

  • how to get a gmail account and google docs and aps
  • RSS and using the google reader
  • creating a wiki with PBwiki
  • libraries and YouTube
  • creating an avatar in Second Life and doing more with it
  • podcasting using Audacity
  • doing more with Firefox

I sat down to write up the program for this month and realised that most of the topics I had up my sleeve were topics most staff had not heard of, could not be immediately applied to their jobs, and hence staff would be unlikely to turn up. I was thinking of topics like:

  • social bookmarking using del.icio.us/connotea/citeulike,
  • high use social networks like twitter, facebook, pownce, myspace
  • bundling RSS feeds into an OPML file
  • creating a google widget
  • BIGWIG sharecase
  • LITA’s top technology trends.

What to do? The whole point of an Emerging Technology group is to look at what is being used by early adopters and how this may impact later on our services. If everyone has heard of it, it’s too late to be trying to assess the impact.

CW suggested that maybe we could try using the time for a reading group. Maybe we could formalise it and run a 23 things program aimed at staff who haven’t participated yet? Perhaps we could make the sessions less frequent and give them a set of self paced tasks and readings as well as the hands on workshop?

If Emerging Technologies are so important, however, I should be able to address staff concerns. My next step is to try to articulate exactly why library staff should take up their time to learn about Emerging Technologies, even those with no application right now.

Next post – wish me luck…

One thought on “Why should I learn about that when I’m busy with other stuff?

  1. Great post Kathryn and can relate to where you are at.

    The first thing you need to consider with professional development is that PD is all about change; change evokes different emotions in different people. An understanding about change and change management will help you relate better to their concerns and develop strategies to help them.

    Another strategy worth adopting in your sessions is reflective learning – sorry I am not an expert with this. Basically give them opportunities to reflect on their learning, this will both help their learning process and give you a better idea of how to help them more.

    I understand the need to be emerging technology but think we need to get them to the point where they are using it an appreciating it; even if we have to do it at their pace. Otherwise we will overwhelm them. I believe that once we get them to a certain point in their use of technology that is when we will be able to speed up the process.

    This is my wiki that relates to my work with professional development. Sorry it is still under construction but you may get some ideas from here.

What do you think? Let us know.