Sunday, October 16, 2011

Training staff on ebooks and ereaders

The amazing Sue Polanka spoke at our recent Colorado Association of Libraries conference about all things ebook. She has become a trusted business intelligence reporter, and has the most comprehensive -- and clear -- presentation on what's up than anyone I've run across.

As she recently blogged at her No shelf required site, she and I talked about strategies to get library staff better informed about ebooks and ebook readers. Such training tends to be expensive and slippery. It costs a lot - in equipment, presenter time, or staff time - to give a solid introduction to all the issues, and unless a staff member USES that particular device, it all fades away fast.

So my library did something different. We asked our Foundation board to offer a $50 rebate to any staff member who bought a Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iPad, Android tablet, or HP Touchpad (this last was my idea, and yeah, I know HP pulled the plug on it). The board thought it was brilliant. We gave our staff three months to do it: the month before we announced the rebate (so as not to punish our early adopters), the current month, and the next month. And we gave the full $50 AFTER taxes (it counts as compensation). Out of about 320 staff members, 104 took us up on it. And now, they train themselves, get together regularly to compare notes over lunch, and find themselves far more able to support the devices of our patrons. It was cheap, effective, and quick. It moved the whole staff rapidly forward in tech savvy. Recommended.

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