Learning from others – peer training best practices
Moderator: Hannah Fischer, Library of Congress, USA
Rapporteur: Karin Finer, European Parliament, Belgium
There were many interesting discussions and examples of peer training activities around the world, including projects for sharing ideas and experiences on national level (http://osaavat.org/peerlearning/), dedicated websites for professional discussions on international/national/regional level, training days organised by library associations or equivalent, and individual library initiatives to ensure sharing of knowledge.
The efficiency of different formats for peer training was debated. Online tutorials, e-mail communication, social media, presentations at staff meetings, one-to-one training etc. can all be used. The preferred format is of course very much dependent on an organisation’s staff resources and size.
The question of whether peer training programmes should be formal or not was discussed. Some felt that it would be easier to motivate involvement in training if management actively supported and allowed time for such activities. One library had developed a peer training contract, to be signed by management, the trainer and the trainee. This contract notified management of the peer trainer’s intentions, and resulted in the peer trainer gaining extra work time to plan and complete their peer training program. Other types of buddy/mentor programmes to train new staff were described.
An interesting example of peer involvement was given by two libraries who had introduced a system where staff giving client training was observed and evaluated by colleagues. It worked well, due to the evaluation being firmly based on positive feedback in a friendly environment. It was seen as important to support others to become confident trainers.
Finally, the question of reluctance to share knowledge was brought to the table. Some colleagues felt there was no culture of sharing information in their organisation, and in some cases even resistance against it. Participants thought it was important to encourage all staff in an organisation to be part of peer training. There are many ways to be involved – as a classroom trainer, helping to develop online tools and training materials, writing reports from courses and conferences, and/or by acting as a reference point for questions in areas of individual competence.