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Tell Your Story

Orange County Library System

Library Operations & Management |

Innovation Synopsis

Orange County Library System designed a training initiative for librarians to create content, provide new services, and have new skills to meet community needs. Every public service librarian within the system was trained to operate a digital camera, recorder, and scanner as well as in interviewing techniques and film editing.


Libraries are continually seeking opportunities to connect with their communities in new ways. In a world of vast digital content, having frontline staff skilled in the techniques used to record, edit, and upload local content enables the library to make community connections, gather user stories, or provide staff equipped with 21st Century skills as a key new customer service. Keeping staff skills current is a challenge every library faces. New technology, new procedures, and new tools are constants for every organization. But at the same time, the rapidly changing roles of library professionals, creates an opportunity for staff to learn and apply skills. Additional challenges include finding venues for the staff to utilize these skills and engaging community members in these activities to aid in ensuring that libraries remain vital in the lives of their communities.

Key Elements of Innovation

Included in OCLS’ strategic goals are continuous innovation and staff empowerment. A new training curriculum was created to prepare the librarians for this project. Training covered the principles of oral history, how to conduct an interview, how to use the various equipment (scanner, camera, video camera, audio recorder) and how to use software programs to edit content. This interactive training provided staff with hands on time to work with the equipment and practice interviewing techniques. While the training was enthusiastically received, we recognized that staff needed the opportunity to continue to use these skills. To keep staff engaged in increasing their technical skills and to find ways to provide library users with lifelong learning opportunities, video and audio recording equipment was purchased for each of our branches. Having the equipment readily available not only encourages staff to practice their skills, but provides them with the flexibility of being able to do “on-the-spot” recordings whenever an opportunity presents itself. Their knowledge gained from training and the hands on experience has given staff the confidence and ability to assist customers with their own projects. Due to our staff’s ability to capture a wide range of content quickly and easily, and then being able to edit and upload the content to our local history site has enabled us to expand and preserve our community’s historical knowledge.

Achieved Outcomes

While the Washington Park branch is very popular with their community, we wanted to expand the ways our community could interact with us. The community has seen many changes and still embraces and celebrates its rich history. One avenue of access was identified as recording the history of the community. This resulted in more than 15 hours of oral histories that preserve the heritage of the Washington Shores community. This experience provided an opportunity for staff to expand their knowledge and skills, and as a result, librarians are actively seeking opportunities to record community histories. Each library branch now has the equipment and staff skills to preserve history whenever and wherever the opportunity presents itself. This project has also aided the library in fulfilling its mission and accomplishing strategic goals. Inspired by their experience with the training and the local history event at the Washington Park branch, librarians are pursuing other ways to use this knowledge and equipment, such as capturing user experiences at events and encouraging community members to record their family’s history as an aid to genealogical research.