Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Rural Libraries and Patron Training

The Public Libraries and the Internet report states that public libraries are:
"Providing training to help raise patrons’ skill levels. Seniors, people without Internet access at home, and adults seeking continuing education are the primary audiences of technology training. While a majority of libraries offer training, only 28% offer training on a scheduled basis (either weekly or monthly). That percentage drops to approximately 16% for patrons served by rural libraries, but increases to nearly 64% for patrons served by urban libraries".

Only 16% of rural libraries.... This report was published in 2004 - I wonder if that number has increased. I can see why the number is low - lack of staff time, lack of equipment, etc. I do know, however, that there are some rural libraries that have found creative ways to overcome those obstacles and provide great training for their communities. Grant funding for equipment, the use of volunteers as trainers, partnerships with schools or other organizations -- all of these things can help make technology training a possibility. And, it's often one person (with a vision and a mission) who jumpstarts a great training program.

Another thing that can really help rural libraries is being able to "borrow" materials that have been created by larger libraries. Please make your training materials available online and let people know they are there! Hennepin Co, for example, is great about sharing their materials -- check out their extranet to see some recent items of interest to librarians.

2 Comments:

At 11:47 AM, Blogger jzo said...

Word up, librarians with class.

There is some interesting organizing that is built on existing networks. The premise is that building social capital is easier to develop where it has already taken root.

If you want people to get off the couch and into public space, aka a library, then outreach to existing organizations is a good way to spark interest. Targeting PTAs, bridge clubs, church groups, soccer teams, homeowners assns, etc. for training could help build the community connections that make people more likely to come and might make the training more relevant, effective.

Connecting training to existing organizations and causes also creates unique synergies for grant writing. Funding for technology training might be scarce, but funding for education, seniors, community development, nonprofit capacity building, etc. might be more accessible.

Or at least that's the theory I'm working from these days. Either that or waiting for the 5th Season of Six Feet Under to hit netflix.

Peace,
Joe

 
At 1:47 PM, Blogger bck said...

Great points, Joe! I worked at a library where we partnered with the local genealogy club to do sessions about web resources for genealogists. We partnered with local investment clubs to do sessions about financial planning resources online.

A local quilting group requested a session on quilting resources online, too. I never would have thought of that one, but it was great.

I've also been trying to think of ways to do more technology training in context.... So instead of doing training where the technology is the centerpiece, have a topic that is the centerpiece (like health information) and then the technology is something that supports that.

Interesting stuff to consider....
Thanks for your comment!
Brenda

 

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