Technology Competencies and Training for Libraries: A mini-review

Sarah Houghton-Jan wrote this (see post title), which is Library Technology Reports 43:2 (March/April 2007); ALA Publishing sent me a copy in the hopes that I’d “find an opportunity to review it for a relevant publication or…blog about it.”

This isn’t terribly timely (too much going on), and isn’t terribly deep–and, of course, I’m not in a library, so I’m not an expert reviewer in this case, but

It’s very good. I believe it would serve as a useful guide for establishing a set of desired or required technology competencies for library staff–and for the training required to enable the staff to meet those requirements.

Sarah Houghton-Jan writes as well as she speaks, which is a compliment, and writes in her own voice. That makes the material more interesting and accessible than if she used a purely formal tone, without distracting from the message.

I won’t go through the half-book (an issue of LTR has roughly the same content as a very short book) chapter by chapter; this isn’t a comprehensive review. It’s an easy read; she organizes the material into a dozen relatively brief chapters and keeps momentum going throughout. But it’s also something you’ll want to keep handy as you think about and carry out a competencies process–or, just maybe, decide your library doesn’t need one just yet (yes, Houghton-Jan discusses that possibility without dismissing it entirely).

Houghton-Jan does not set forth The Checklist; she clearly recognizes locality and the need for each library to draw up its own list. Similarly, she does not specify The Way for training; she offers a number of suggestions to consider. She’s done a fair amount of training, but doesn’t say that everybody should do it her way. There’s a refreshing lack of universalisms here; she’s setting forth principles and methods, not a canned recipe.

Well done, and I believe many libraries will find this useful.

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