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User Generated Staff Training

Sacramento Public Library

Problem Statement

How do we motivate staff to be trained if the staff doesn’t want to learn?


We asked ourselves a long overdue question in 2010—why do we host a staff development day every year? When we think about the impact the day has on our public it seems prudent to examine why it’s important to close 28 locations for an entire day and inconvenience thousands of patrons. This resulted in a new plan and format which included random work groups in the morning session who were asked to think big: huge ideas with no resource limitations. In the afternoon, departments and branches were asked to come up with one attainable goal that could be achieved by our next quarterly all-staff meeting. We left the goal setting entirely in staff hands. We expected that many different ideas and goals would emerge but we were wrong. The majority of staff (as with most libraries, the majority of our staff work directly with the public) wanted more training on downloadables, primarily eBooks, Overdrive and loading titles onto a device. Many staff were fumbling their way through helping patrons use this service and not always delivering the best service. The work groups committed to educating themselves but it became clear that there needed to be some system-wide training.We are lucky enough to have a system-wide Technology Librarian who immediately set out to train as many staff as possible, with the help of some tech savvy Central Library staff. We constructed a train the trainer model and asked every branch to send their most tech savvy staff to the training.


While we asked that tech savvy staff to attend the trainings, many more staff showed up. five weeks, we trained 150 staff, which is 78% of our front line staff. It was clear that the need was there. In addition, Central Library staff committed to training on downloadables in a deeper way. All staff took an assessment quiz at the beginning and end of the training month. Any staff who received 100% on the quiz by the end of the month was entered into a drawing for a day of vacation (four days were donated by a long-time staff member). Almost 200 staff have now been trained in downloadables, (eBooks, audio books, music), devices, terminology and more. And we did it all in time to start planning for next year’s Staff Day.