Public libraries, training and the impact of information technology : a comparative study of public libraries in Canada and England
Training is increasingly required as technology brings wide sweeping changes to the ways in which traditional library activities are administered. The purpose of this thesis was to collect and analyse information on training, on the use of information technology and the training given for it, and how the technology In use has Impacted on training in selected public libraries. Semi structured interviews formed the basis of the data collection on training in the English and Canadian libraries. While concentrating on the types of information technology introduced and hence what training is required, the researcher also uses examples from training programmes covering other issues, or relating to non automated situations, if this elucidates a specific point. Training has become a key activity in public libraries and the interview data establishes this hypothesis. The IT introduced and currently in use in public library systems determines the training offered which in tum impacts on the Individual staff member, the organisation and the library community as a whole. This demonstrates that the introduction of technology does modify the training required. The organisational structure flattens after technology is introduced; the role of middle managers undergoes significant changes while the blurring of job boundaries between different levels of staff dramatically alters the role of paraprofessionals. Other areas where significant changes are taking place include the need for a more highly educated and skilled workforce; whether deskilling has happened; the need for improved interpersonal skills; and the creation of new specialist positions. IT stresses a team not an individual approach and training needs to reflect this. Further it is demonstrated that using the technology itself for training is on the increase: CBT (Computer based training) can be used for a wide range of repetitive tasks, particularly those associated with the circulation desk and be used with simulations in management situations.