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Tech Academy –Advanced Database and eBook Training

Sacramento Public Library

Innovation Summary

Sacramento Public Library launched Tech Academy to improve both customer service and public awareness of our electronic resource collections and technology services. Tech Academy is a quarterly offering featuring advanced training sessions and group forums for our most tech savvy staff.

Innovation Leader: Amy Calhoun, Electronic Resources Librarian, acalhoun@saclibrary.org

Problem Statement

Sacramento Public Library offers a wide range of technology services to the public, including public-use computers, Wi-Fi, eReaders, eBooks, and premium databases. Yet the community doesn’t typically think of the public library as a resource for technology and when staff is not fully versed on our eResources it reinforces this misconception. The challenge of ensuring staff is fully conversant with our technology and electronic resource offerings was compounded by two issues: How do we develop our most technically savvy staff when training sessions typically move at the pace of the slowest learner? How do we improve communication between the IT department, Collection Services Department, and front line staff in a large 28-branch system covering both city and county?

Innovation

Tech Academy brings together the most enthusiastic and capable staff across the library system with quarterly meetings for intermediate and advanced computer users. It began in April 2011 with a call for nominations from supervisors for staff with genuine interest in and enthusiasm for technology, as well as a willingness to assist and teach others. Membership was open to all levels of frontline staff. From these nominations, a core group of approximately 30 staff was selected to pool their knowledge, further develop their skill sets, and serve as tech liaisons for their branch. For staff who aren’t supervisors or librarians, there are very few opportunities to collaborate with colleagues from other locations. The academy also offers an opportunity for face-to-face interaction between IT and the branches that otherwise would not happen consistently. Every academy features training sessions and discussion forums, with topics selected by polling the attendees.

Progress

Tech Academy has proven to be an effective way to ensure branch liaisons share a common understanding of the technology resources Sacramento Public Library offers. Over the course of the last year, Tech Academy has provided training sessions on these topics: • Advanced Database Searching • Kindle Books and Overdrive • Loading Library eReaders with new eBooks • Outlook Inbox Management • Public Computer and Printer Troubleshooting • Website Content Management System A second level of IT training has allowed Tech Academy liaisons to assist patrons and other staff, decreasing the burden of an understaffed IT department. The IT department has reported a decrease in help desk calls since the public computer and printer troubleshooting session. Training on Outlook Inbox Management has improved staff time management and led to more Outlook training classes outside of Tech Academy. The usage of our electronic resource collections has also increased since the implementation of Tech Academy. By building knowledge and confidence within, Sacramento Public Library positions itself to better serve its public, which is surely becoming more tech savvy as mobile reader and computing devices become more prevalent. For those in the community who do not have home access to computers and online resources, staff can now help them fully utilize all of the resources offered by their library.