Contribution, Dedication and Inspiration: Student Library Workers

Anthony Riccio, stacks manager at Yale University’s Sterling Library, presented a case study of how he has organized, involved and motivated student workers for greater productivity and job satisfaction in a very large collection. He described the trajectory of the typical student worker from initial contract, through a developing sense of teamwork and role-identification, to becoming a creative and contributing member of a larger effort.

The touchstone of Riccio’s approach is a well developed, student-centered training model that builds upon previous skills and intentionally incorporates student ideas and suggestions at every step. Students begin with sorting books on carts and work their way up through shelving and shelf-reading to higher-level activities such as searching and special projects. They work in teams – “We never shelve alone,” says Riccio – and both give and receive constant feedback on progress through graphs and reports, individual meetings, and daily “student huddles.” There are frequent work rotations to subvert boredom, and students who evidence interest and involvement are eligible for promotion to team leader.

Over the twelve years that he has been at Sterling, Riccio has seen a marked improvement in productivity, morale, sense of teamwork and retention rate among student workers. “Students want structure, goals, and feedback,” he remarks. “They will make a difference if they are given a chance.”

Tip Top Tech Training

Laura Blake (NETSL) introduced Dodie Gaudet.

Experience as supervisors, dept. head, contract cataloger, aerobics instructor- lots of training experience (rec’d and giving).

Trainging is an integral part of lib’s job (our REAL job).

Emphasis on preparation.

wHAT DO YOU want to accompl. with traingin?
train the trainer?

know situation, audience, environment:
who are listeners?
why are they here?
training staff to use the latest vers of software?
train patrons to use databse?

plan for time to practice training program!!!!! 2-3 hours- 1 hour of traing, then rest for practice.

Plan for breaks! esp for long sessions.

Know your material:
Make sure you know what you’re doing before you try to teach someone else (research more than you actually need so you are fully prepared).
helps build interest in topic
” confidence in you own knowledge of topic
good foundation for qa
allows you to choose best/strongest material

3 parts of presentation:
Opening- tell them what you’re going to tell them
Body: Tell them
Closing: Tell them what you’ve told them

Get listener’s attention
Est. credentials
Give listeners a reason for listening
Involve audience (introduce selves- small group)

Cover info/steps from the very beginning
don’t assume the aud. has a background in the subj., if not sure, ask
Review any relevant history
if you think some of the people already know some of what you’re covering, and don’t want to insult them by expl. from scratch, ask “Who knows about?”
Rather than saying: Of course you already know that, try saying “You may already know…”
Include every step
things that are obvious to an experienced person are not always obvious to a new learner
be clear
reduce jargon (or define it)
paint a picture with words
prepare specific examples
use them to illustrate var. aspects of software
prepare examples of most common mistakes
show what happens when the mistake is make
show how to get out of it
speak to the listener’s wants and needs
be relevant
use gimmicks with caution- be releveant!
diff. people have diff. visual learning styles
auditory, visual, kinesthetic**
conceptual vs. detail (go thru every step)
give 2 diff. examples expl. the same thing (no more than three ex.)
give non-computer examples/draw parallels with everyday life
if someone doesn’t understand explain it in a diff. way (don’t repeat what you’ve just said)
ask other trainees who do understand to explain

end on time
quickly review/summarize material
end with conviction, have a clear ending
get immediate feedback to incorporate into the next training
certificate of completion helps give closure

Prepare handouts:
Incl. screen shots if possible (useful if internet/computer is down)
Include step-by-step details
Include info about how quickly or slowly the next screen will appear
Don’t put too much info on one page
Leave lots of white space for notes
give them at BEGINNING of presentation

Use the same computers that trainees will be using
practice with all a/v aids or props you will use, incl. setting up and moving around
remember the places you had diffic. when you were learning
notice where you tend to make mistakes (others will likely do the same)
modify presentation if necessary
review handouts for possible revisions
rehearse aloud (4 times if possible)
rehearse with people you know and get feedback
if you are wokring with other trainers, coordinate your parts and stay within you allotted time

We then took a quiz (I htink I only got one right!!!!), which illustrated the point that if you look for feedback from your audience, make sure it’s stuff you’ve just shared with them, and not random stuff that they should know but don’t.

The Presentation:

Est. rapport with the trainees, be approachable
be friendly, smile
introduce yourself
have them into themselves
tell a personal story related to the traingin
review agenda- always let people know what to expect

Be attentive to your audience and their needs
review handouts with trainees
cover material at a slow enough pace so ppl. can absorb
cover same material with a different excercise
allow ample opportunity for people to ask questions
watch computer screens to keep people from getting lost- if there are many people have proctors to help

Watch audience for signals
if they look restless, change your pres. style, take a quick stretch break, or get them involved by asking questions
(web sites provided in handout)

We did a stretching excericise here- hands on small of back and lean back, finger on chin and push back to prevent leaning forward, pull back on fingers of each hand, touch thumbs to fingers, rotate hands, rotate feet.

We memorized a rhyme in parts, to stress the importance of breaking concepts into parts to learn more easily (handout provided).

Create an atmosphere conducive to learning:
-patient and non judging
-break things into small steps
-provide for success (praise, encouragement)
-inspire confid. be reassuring
-encourage experimenting
-make learning fun
-use humor
-encourage questions
if a questions is too detailed or out of the scope of this training, give a simpler answer and offer to go into more depth at the break
if the question is something you planned to cover later, say so. make sure you cover it later.
IMPORTANT TO HAVE TEST ENVIRONMENT, and encourage “play”- you can’t break this!
-for beginners who need help using a mouse, visit (website)


At regualr intervals during pres., sum up what has been covered and what is still to be covered.

Use a pointing stick or laser pointer instead of your hand

Don’t apologize to listeners, never say you’re not prepared

Acknowledge any problems that happen and continue.

pay attn to vol, diction, pitch, speed
use vocal variety
pause for effect just before and after important points
elim. ahs, ums, likes, verbal tics – have someone count your tics when practicing
take care of yourself:
drink water and stay hydrated- talking is a dehyrdrating activity
avoid milk products before speaking
avoid overeating just before speaking
avoid caffeine and alchohol just before speaking
be well reasted- plan training for am if monring person, afternoon if not, etc.
stay in good physical and mental condition

attend workshops, etc. and remember what it’s like to learn something new
pay attn. to presenter/instructor
eval. presentation
always be preparing to give your next workshop

QUESTION: what do you do when nothing is going right? Acknowledge problem, try to solve as a groiup, then carry on.

QUESTION: how do you deal with people who show up late? keep going and catch them up later? this is usually the way to go. sometimes starting with intros (self, others) delays start of actual material and accounts for stragglers. late people can catch up with other trainees, over breaks, etc.

QUESITON: what doyou do with diff. learning speeds? Handouts are helpful for speddier people to work alone while you can help others who are having a harder time. Having a proctor/helper to go around helps.

Excercise: Explain how to build a snowman. We get 3-4 min to explain.

1) if it’s a snowy, go outside and gather a handful of snow. Cup boths hands and clap the hand without snow in it on top of the hand with snow. You may want to wear gloves. If the snow “packs” well, menaing if it consolidates enough to become significantly firmer, then the snow outside is appropriate for building a snowperson. If the snow sort of flies out of your hand or remains loose and fluffy, it is not good snow for making a snowperson and you should go inside and have some tea.
Example of good snow:

2) gather decorative materials: eyes, nose, apparael, , etc. stuff you don’t care about because it will be out in the elements for several days.
3)start by making 3 snowballs, by repeating step 1. pack more and more snow onto the each ball

place according to aesthetic desirres in snowperson by attaching via snow.

Tip Top Tech Training

Libraries are constantly changing and adding oftware, upgrading both software and hardware, and finding new applications for existing programs. Teaching others to use these new additions is a perpetual challenge. Dodie Gaudet from the Central
MA Regional Library System explains techniques and theories of training and incorporates audience participation in exercises and discussion. Learn how to structure a training session, prepare handouts, accommodate different learning styles, select methods of presentation and create an atmosphere conducive to learning. NETSL sponsors this program and their business meeting is included.

Tuesday morning, 8:30
Tip Top Tech Training

Dodie Gaudet
Bibliographic and Technical Services Consultant

Tuesday morning, 8:30
Tip Top Tech Training

Dodie Gaudet
Bibliographic and Technical Services Consultant

Been a supervisor and department head. Contract cataloger. New ILS every few months. Deliverer and Recipient of a lot of training. Aerobics instructor–talking and moving to music. Once sold textbooks.

Share your own experiences. This is a Learning Experience.

Training is an integral part of our Real Job. We’re going to be doing it forever, as long as we get new ILSs and new staff.

Preparation is very important. What do you expect of the audience?

Not all tips will be used for all situations. For example, practice time during training session might not always be needed.

Training sessions should be 2 to 3 hours max. Leave time for breaks. Take short stretching breaks.

Make sure you know what you’re teaching. Research. Learn peripheral subjects. Your energy and enthusiasm and confidence will transfer to the training session. Choose best and strongest material–you don’t have to cover everything.

Tell them what you’re going to tell them.
Tell them.
Tell them what you’ve told them.

Get their attention right away.

Why are we here? Give people a reason for listening. Involve the audience. Especially in a small group, let everyone introduce themselves.

Start from the beginning, including starting the computers and starting the program.

Don’t assume that the audience has any subject knowledge. Example, a transfer from another department. Don’t assume that people have a background.

Review any relevant history. Example, old cataloging rules, terminology.

Soften your assumptions: “You may already know.” Not “Of course you already know.”

Include every step.

Be clear. Reduce jargon. Each department has its own jargon. Define your jargon.

Paint a picture; use specific examples, showing all the steps all the way through.

Prepare examples of the most common mistakes! Typos, for example.

Speak to the listener’s wants and needs. What problems does the listener have that can be solved with this database?

Use gimmicks with caution. They could backfire.

Different people have different learning styles. Example: visuals and/or thorough descriptions. Kinesthetic. Conceptual and detail people. Little old lady, copy cataloger, had to learn new system. “What do I do??” Wanted to learn details first, then got the Big Picture later.

Give at least a couple of different examples, but no more than 2 or 3. Then move on.

Give some non-computer examples: answering machines, post mail.

Repeat using different explanation; don’t just repeat your last explanation.

End on time.


End with conviction, enthusiasm about what this new product will do for you.

Get feedback right away, especially if you’re going to be repeating the same training.

Give certificates of completion.

Handouts at the beginning, most of the time.

Use screenshots if at all possible. Be prepared in case no network connection, or system crashes.

Include information as to how quickly the next screen will appear.

Leave lots of white space for user’s notes.

Practice! Practice with any a/v equipment you may use.

Remember the places you had trouble learning.

Modify your handouts based on the dry run.

Rehearse your speech aloud.

If you’re working with other trainers, rehearse your parts.

Stay within your alloted time.

Exercise #1 is a 3 minute quiz. We “should” know, but we don’t. Like people with computers. They’re thinking they should know how to do this, but they don’t.

The Presentation

Make people feel comfortable. Let them introduce themselves. Tell a personal story related to the training. Let people know what to expect. Be attentive to the audience’s needs. Run through handouts.

Cover materials at a pace where people can absorb it. Allow ample opportunity for questions. If you’re using computers, make sure everyone is on the right screen. If it’s a big group, get proctors/coaches to help you. Watch the audience–have stretch breaks. Back stretch. Neck stretch. Hand and wrist exercises. Feet and ankle circles. See websites in handout for more suggestions.

Break it down into smaller chunks. Search the web for “If Dr. Seuss wrote technical manuals.” One example is at Read the first stanza and ask the audience to repeat it. Now read it one line at a time and ask the audience to repeat the one line. Much easier!

Create an atmosphere conducive to learning.

Be patient, non-judgmental. Applaud success, inspire confidence. Encourage questions, experiments. “You can’t break it. And if you do, it’s not your fault.”

Training the Public v. training staff. Sometimes they ask questions beyond the scope of the training. Take it offline. If you’re covering it later, say that.

See link to Athol Library mouse exercises at, for learning to use the mouse. Trainees with Parkinson’s may find it easier to use the mouse if they have a ruler that they can use as a guide. A touchpad may be easier for some people to use.

Give people the benefit of the doubt. Be patient. They’re doing their best. We weren’t all born knowing how to drive, for example.

At regular intervals, sum up what’s been covered and where we’re going.

If using overheads or workstations, use a pointer, not your fingers.

Don’t apologize to the listeners, and never tell them that you aren’t prepared. Bluff it out. Acknowledge any problems and respond to them as best you can. For example, if the room is too cold, we’ll get up and move around from time to time.

Pay attention to your own voice. Use vocal variety, not a monotone. Pause for effect after important points. Eliminate ahs and ums and other verbal tics. Toastmasters is good training for this.

Take care of yourself. Drink a lot of water and stay hydrated. Avoid milk and other dairy products just before speaking; it coats your throat and you’ll spend a lot of time clearing it. Avoid lots of caffeine and alcohol, overeating. Be well-rested. Stay in good physical and mental condition. If you’re a morning person, try to schedule training in the morning. Evening, then evening. Your biorhythms affect your audience.

Attend workshops and remember what it’s like to learn something new. Evaluate the presentations.

Always be prepared to give your next workshop, be constantly improving them.


Start on time, don’t retrace or repeat for late arrivals. If it’s an all day class, you can afford to wait 5 or 10 minutes. If it’s only an hour, no. Do introductions first, give latecomers more time. Ask for background, “what do you expect from this class?” Catch up during breaks.

If you’re preparing to teach to the public, practicing with staff will be different.

Different learning speeds? Handouts are helpful. Some people can continue on from the handouts while you help the slower learners catch up. Have proctors/coaches to help you. Combine exercises and break time for more flexibility.

“How to build a snowman” training exercise:
Establish your snowman credentials.
Explain what snow is.
How much is enough.
Wear glove and warm clothes.
Pick up a handful of snow and and pack it into a ball.
Add more snow until it’s big enough to roll along on the ground.
Make three snowballs of different sizes.
Stack them, starting with the largest and ending with the smallest.
Add a carrot for the nose, two lumps of coal for the eyes, an top hat, and a scarf.
Add two twigs for arms.

Another practice training exercise: how to boil an egg. (What’s an egg, and why would I want to do this to it?)

Confidence. Visuals. Teamwork.
It takes practice. Learning how to train other people takes practice, too. Just do it. We learn through teaching.

Do evaluation forms.