Md. libraries using online training
- By Dibya Sarkar
- May 24, 2002
About 100 librarians across Maryland's public library systems are using
interactive online management training tools, which proponents say save
time and are less expensive than traditional classroom training.
Started as an experiment three years ago in Carroll County, the project
spread to 16 of the state's 27 public library systems last fall with the
help of the Maryland Library Partnership (www.maplaonline.org/partnership), a nonprofit cooperative of the library
Developed by San Francisco-based Ninth House Inc., the courses which
aren't library specific include such topics as situational leadership,
high-impact hiring, handling interpersonal situations and change management,
said Gail Griffith, deputy director at Carroll County Public Library (www.library.carr.org). Some courses take an hour or two to complete and
others are longer, she added.
She said it's more convenient for librarians, who previously had to
take perhaps as much as a whole day to attend training session. She also
said that many times, post-training measurements weren't conducted to evaluate
what librarians learned.
"The online [program] does give the administrator the opportunity to
see who's completed the course, how much time was spent, and pre- and post-tests
are built in to see if people actually got the content," said Griffith,
who added that face-to-face discussions are conducted afterwards to reflect
on what they learn. "And then we do an additional debriefing to talk about
Cost is about $250 per year per learner, she said, adding that the library
systems negotiate their own deal and the price is cost-effective compared
with attending a training session.
The Carroll County system has been using the product for three years
now, ever since Griffith saw a demonstration by Ninth House at a technology
learning conference. With federal money funneled through the state, 10 of
the system's top managers tried it out. She said they were so excited about
it they volunteered to use their discretionary money to buy additional seats.
Personally, she said she has seen a positive effect in her library system
from usage of the online programs. Maryland's public libraries, which serve
about 2.5 million residents, are also exploring a partnership with a vendor
to develop library-specific training modules, she said.