Who Should Teach Your Patrons to Fish?

By , February 15, 2012 9:33 am

by Kristine Lloyd

Turns out I’m an extrovert. I know you are as shocked as I am to find this out, but I love people. Not all people, mind you, but most people. I love talking to people, laughing with people, and showing people how to do cool things on the internet, which brings me around to the topic of this post: training. Yes, once again, I have something to say on the subject, but I am more than a little excited to see a vendor reiterating what I have been saying for a long time: it’s far better to have a librarian training patrons on how to use services, than a vendor.

Chuck Lowry of Fastcase points out that librarians are in an ideal position to teach our attorneys, since we are so familiar with their needs, the culture of our institutions, and the framework within which the resources will be used. Plus, we’re not trying to sell the products we’re training people to use.

As the training team leader for our library, I am bombarded with calls and emails from vendors wanting to show up for training in the firm. I get to be the gatekeeper and decide whether or not I want to let people in. As the author points out, there are certainly times when a vendor training is warranted, especially when rolling out a new product in which the librarians are not yet well-versed, but most of the time I simply tell our vendors that we’ve got everything under control, and we’ve got the usage statistics to back that up. We regularly teach firmwide classes on key practice group resources. We also locally teach Westlaw and Lexis to our first-year and summer associates. After years of sitting through vendor sessions where nary a question was asked, I decided to teach the Lexis and Westlaw class myself. Now, I can barely get through the training without a barrage of questions about pricing. It’s a great chance for me to convene with the people. Whether you are energized by spending time with other people or not, you can be a great trainer, and it’s certainly a worthwhile skill for every librarian to have, even if it means giving up the free doughnuts.

2 Responses to “Who Should Teach Your Patrons to Fish?”

  1. Jan Lawrence says:

    Kristine —
    I really appreciate this post. Being able to train on the various databases that we oversee can also keep us up on the skills to use them, as well as keeping us at the forefront as the experts. We are in a better position to instruct on the cornucopia of resources available to our clients and how these resources interact with and complement each other (print and online). And added benefit for those of us not extroverts by nature, is the challenge of “getting out there!”

  2. Rita Kaiser says:

    Plus, training is fun!

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