Assessing Skills and Training Needs

In order to effectively improve the competency of staff in using eResources it is necessary to find out their existing awareness and skill level.

An informal survey is a good way of assessing training needs.  It should be made clear that the survey is not related to staff performance but will be used to develop topics for training. The survey should be anonymous and relevant to your library’s eResources.

An online survey tool such as surveymonkey is a time efficient way of conducting the survey and analysing the results.

The questionnaire should include 8-10 questions covering eResource awareness, selection and technical skills. Where relevant, you can use a ranking or rating system to assess perceived levels.  

It is also useful to combine quantitative data with one or two open questions to give staff the opportunity to make comments.

The survey should be presented to all staff at the same time with a strict deadline for completion and the participants should be thanked for their contribution. 

Indicative questions that might be included:

eResource awareness and understanding

  • Do you feel confident in directing customers to the eResources?
  • Do you know which eResources are good for Australian content?
  • Do you know which databases have local content?
  • Can you advise customers on where to find a range of online formats such as newspaper and journal articles, primary resources and Australia Standards via the library website?
  • Do you include eResources with most complex information enquiries?
  • Can you advise customers about eResource licensing and copyright restrictions?
  • What types of eResources would you like to learn more about?
  • Do you face any barriers to demonstrating eResources to customers?
  • Can you advise customers of the online tutorials and training options available to them?

Search skills

  • Are you able to demonstrate the process of accessing and searching the eResources to customers?
  • Can you demonstrate boolean searching?
  • Do you know how limit search results, by date or full text content for example?
  • Do you know what to do if you get too many search results?
  • Would like to get better results when searching the eResources?

General web awareness

  • Can you help customers evaluate the currency and authority of web information?
  • Can you demonstrate the features of Trove?
  • Do you know what areas of State Library of NSW’s website are useful to students?
  • Can you find national, state and local statistics on the web?

Assessing the results of the survey

It is helpful to group the questions into topics or issues to inform training content. Knowledge of content, format and then search skills for example.

Low responses across most areas indicates that foundation or basic awareness and skills training is required.

If the results are mixed refresher courses can be developed to reinforce searching skills and database content.

Regular training sessions are valuable to everyone including experienced users. Developing short eResource courses is a good way to update skills and stimulate staff interest and awareness. Topics might include: Getting better answers, What’s new in eResources or Marketing eResources, for example. Or eResources for Family History or eResources for Health and Wellbeing.

Training modules such as these can also be used as the basis for customer training.