Posted by: bluesyemre | January 9, 2018

#Libraries: Learning to Do, Doing to Learn by Jane Cowell


I just read Learning to Do, Doing to Learn: why training isn’t enough by Tyler Koch, a) because I am always looking for ways to enhance my leadership tools and b) because I am fascinated with why library staff appear to have such difficulty with change. Library Managers and Library staff tend to think training (or lack of training depending on which of those you are) is the key to why change is so difficult. ‘I cannot do it until I have been trained to do it’ is a mantra I have often heard. But I have always had the view that the reason learning something new is difficult is all about the person’s confidence to learn and the confidence to admit that you do not know — it is emotional as much as it is intellectual. And it is also about being given the time to learn — managers knowing that learning takes time and that they have confidence in their staff through the learning phase. It is so not about sending staff to one training session and then expecting exponential change in behaviour.

Koch’s article also argues that learning is about behaviour and true learning engages a level of critical thinking — it is not by rote training. Learning is also driven by creative application. There needs to be ‘doing’ involved. So how can we use this thinking in library land to build an innovative, creative, digital first culture? We need to involve staff in the problem solving, the solutions and equip them with the pilot projects to practice on to learn and to build confidence.

I saw this in action at Dokk1 in Aarhus with the Library team always in beta, using design thinking and putting humans at the center of their solutions. The Library staff would work with groups of people to test new ways of doing library business and test these in pilot situations in the branch libraries. Then take the time to reflect on the outcomes and then go on to redesign based on what they learnt. And the key to building this culture in the staff was to give the time to do it. It is not an overnight change. It takes time. But like all journeys it starts with the first step. Allowing staff in to the critical thinking aspect of designing new solutions and acting as a guide to the solutions — not starting with a manager led idea or solution.

So using Koch’s article I have adapted his 4 steps for encouraging a learning culture for libraries.

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