Training Initiatives at Brampton Public Library

Adele Kostiak, the CEO of Brampton Public Library, and Tanya Taylor, Human Resources Advisor, gave a presentation on four training initiatives at Brampton Public Library.

The first of these was an internal mentoring program "that provides opportunities for mentors and mentees to educate, inform, and inspire one another." Brampton Public Library is already involved in the OLA mentoring program, and its internal program is modeled after that.

Mentors are seasoned professionals, ideally not from the same department as the mentee. If the new hire agrees, a mentor is assigned for four months for those new to the library and for two months of those new in a position. Typically there are bi-weekly meetings. Both mentor and mentee complete an evaluation at the end of the program. The mentee receives a certificate of completion.

The mentoring program "strategically targets those who are interested in guidance, coaching, and confidence building in their careers via relationship building and information exchange." The objectives of the program are:

– To supplement staff member advancement by providing staff with an alternate guidance format;
– To aid in the transition of new staff members and those new in position;
– To increase staff morale and job satisfaction;
– To assist with the enhancement of the current job skills and abilities of staff, which will increase productivity and aid in the succession planning process; and
– To aid in retention and recruitment of employees.

The benefits for the mentor are:

– Grows the ability to nurture success in others
– Increases recognition and visibility
– Exposure to new ideas/trends
– Continues the cycle of support
– Opportunity to get to know/inspire other professionals
– Enhances professional and leadership skills
– Personal satisfaction by helping another professional.

The benefits for the mentee are:

– Personal, individualized guidance
– Eases the transition to new things
– Increased self confidence through encouragement and networking;
– Career advice and professional development
– Opportunity to share experiences.

The benefits for the organization are:

– Positive morale, fosters inclusion
– Attracts, retains, and engages staff
– Continuous learning environment
– Helps the organization to achieve goals
– Development of leadership talent (succession planning)
– Serve as a model to other libraries;
– Improves quality of informal communication.

The presenters proceeded to discuss the partnership Brampton Public Library has arranged with Mohawk College. The resulting program is called BLIS or Brampton Library Information Service Training Initiative. This program is an in-house library technician training program, and it arose out of the plans for RFID.

Although Brampton Public Library is expanding with more branches being built, the impact of RFID will be such that there will not need to be a corresponding increase in circulation staff members. For the existing staff, who have developed excellent customer service skills, an opportunity will be provided for them to upgrade their skills. The library will pay 75% for 10 Mohawk College courses. The employees can then continue on their own in the library technician program, and they will be considered for internal promotions to library assistant positions. So far, twenty staff members have taken up the offer. It was discovered that several did not have Ontario high school diplomas (Brampton is home to many immigrants). So before they could begin the BLIS program they had to pass proficiency exams. The library has arranged with Mohawk College to offer the courses inhouse (two are actually taught on-site, and 8 are done through distance education). Brampton Public Library reserves 1% of its salary budget for training, so this initiative and others are done within fixed and known amounts.

Brampton Public Library also developed a competency-based fast-tracked management training program. The average age of library employees is 54, and there has been minimal increase in staffing since the mid-1990s. Because Brampton is a growth community, there is some urgency to increase the bench strength of prospective library managers. Towards the end of the presentation, the presenters discussed their succession planning initiative.

The competency areas for the manager training program are:

– Leadership
– Customer service
– Human resources
– Branch operations
– Performance management
– Facilities management
– Communications.

At the end, the speakers expressed an interest in having Brampton Public Library participate in secondments, exchanges, and job shadowing with other public libraries. The speakers also referred to an online leadership analysis tool offered by an Ontario company called Leadership Insight (http://www.leadership-insight.com/).

This presentation is at http://www.accessola2.com/superconference2009/fri/1328/taylor.pdf

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