Monday, August 29, 2016

Library Associate/Volunteer Training

With a new school year, this can sometimes mean new staffing & volunteers within the library. While each situation is unique, I wanted to try to come up with a list of important topics to cover. Even if you don’t have an associate, but are trying to better utilize volunteers, these might also be some things to consider.
  1. Library System- Library systems are vast. Even though they are fairly user-friendly, there are tricks and quirks to each program. Set goals for what you feel they need to know and what is a nice to know.
Goal for the end of the first day: Checkout & check-in books
Goal by the by end of the first week: put a hold on a book, request a hold from another library in the district, etc
  1. Emergency Stuff
While 75% of the time I would be in the library when a drill happens, it is important for my associate to know how to handle a drill if I am not there.
  • Fire Drill
  • Tornado Drill
  • Emergency Drill/ Intruder Drill/ Lockdown Drill
  1. Tour- This is not just a tour or the building (where various classrooms are located), but also other important locations. Some of these might include restroom, vending machine, copy machine/printers, and mailboxes. This also can include where to find leave forms or the location of the time clock in the building. Also, think about the tour of your library & computer labs. Where are items and supplies stored? What items will he/she need to know how to access & use? Are the items or supplies that they do not need to be aware of right away?
  2. “Virtual Tour” - While you can have a tour of the physical space, there also is a tour of who’s who of the school or district. While I often act as the first line of defense when it comes to questions or problems, I don’t have the answers to everything. It is also important for an associate to know who they contact with questions related to their pay, sick leave, and other issues.
  3. How to part of the job- This comes down to some of the daily tasks. This could include tasks like processing books or other items as well as basic book repair.  As books came in over the summer, I tried to save as many as possible. I tried to give examples of fiction and nonfiction as well as different types of books (paperback, hardback, hardback with a book jacket). This helped as books came in over the year and I did not have to explain how to process each type of book, because, I had already saved examples over the summer.
  4. Job expectations & duties- While this seems obvious, it is simply being clear about what you expect them to do as well as how their job duties vary and differ from the librarian. It also is allowing them freedom in other parts of their job. For example, if you expect your associate to change out bulletin boards would you consider to allow them to create or design a bulletin board.   
  5. Get to know them. Ask questions about family, hobbies, and more. You need to be able to work closely with this new individual. While it takes time to get to know each other and to understand each other's’ likes and dislikes, it is important to build this relationship and start to build trust between each other.  

The most important thing I have learned is to go slow. You have the whole year to figure things out and to train your associate or volunteers so prioritize.

  • What is the most important things for your associate to know?
  • Are there things that they can live without knowing right away?
  • Will it just be easier to teach/show something as it comes up? (For example when a box of books comes in, then teach them how to check the packing slip and other parts processing books).