Posts tagged ‘technology competencies’
In the past couple weeks, I’ve listened to a few librarians talk about the woes of their supposed IT specialists.
The problem? They are really good with buzzwords and not so great with applications. Some have complained that their IT specialist were generally unfamiliar with basic computer competencies. And while it is generally deemed okay for a ‘normal’ librarian to be unfamiliar with computer applications and some 2.0 technologies, this should be essential for a person who specialized in IT for their library. If not, we are then left with libraries that stagnate in their IT competencies and fall behind the tech-trend.
So, let’s lose the buzzword interviews. Let’s plan an application process that would really test the abilities of your IT specialist.
When the job is posted for a general IT position, require that the application and cover letter be sent via email in an attachment. If they can’t do this, which is largely considered a basic competency, then they are not qualified for the job. Require a cell phone number (more on this later).
If they are applying for a webmaster position, require them to post their resume online. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just a site with resume and a link to download the resume as well… to show they have basic web-design skills.
If the person’s resume and cover letter meet your standards, TEXT their cell phone to set up an interview. Unorthodox? Perhaps, but part of the IT personality is embracing modern technology. Texting is one of the most popular means of communication with our younger population and, if we want to stay current with our patrons, then we need make sure our IT people are familiar with it as well.
Next, set up a time to talk meet your potential employee ONLINE. Nothing complicated, have them meet you on G-chat, Meebo, AIM or whatever. Once they get there, just hold a brief conversation about what the upcoming interview will entail, quick clarification questions, or see if they have any questions. Better yet, perhaps ask them, for the interview; to prepare a brief demonstration on their favorite 2.0 technology that they think would be useful or popular with the community. The importance is not the conversation itself but more that, once again, they are familiar with using this technology. Again, IM is a popular method of communication and your IT specialist should be comfortable with it.
By this time the interview comes, you will have a basic understanding of the applicant’s technological ability. If they needed instruction or familiarization with any of these things, that should be a warning flag. When they give their demonstration, you will also be able to see how well they can communicate the use of these technologies to other people and just how ambitious their Library 2.0 goals are.
Yes, I do realize there is a possible flaw in this method; it requires that someone on the interview team be familiar with technology as well. It’s a conundrum, that’s for sure. But, let’s look beyond that.
Oh, and if you want to have a little fun with them at the interview, put them in front of a computer with the machine on but the monitor off (or unplugged) and ask them to figure out the problem. Tell them you’ve tried hitting the machine but ‘nothing happened.” If they look at you, remark, “I just don’t think this machine likes me very much.” Then watch for a reaction.
WebJunction recently published a very thorough and detailed set of technology competencies that will be useful to libraries of all types and sizes. I have been meaning to post about this for a few weeks, but conferences and a bit of vacation time got in the way.
This is a project that I and several others have been working on with WebJunction for a few years and it is so wonderful to see it finally published and available for free download!
Congratulations to Betha Gutsche for her ability to see this project through to completion after many changes, debates, iterations and struggles. The final layout is extremely easy to read and hopefully this document will be the jumping point for many libraries to start assessing the skill levels of the staff who work with the public and need to assist patrons with computers (which should be just about everybody who works at a public desk).
On a side note, my involvement on this project was also my introduction to using a wiki for a collaborative project. The work of the original “MPAC Technology Competencies Expert Group” was done primarily through a wiki that was hosted at WebJunction. We had occasional conference calls, but most of the editing of the first drafts of this was done via the wiki and also on a discussion forum.
As I was writing this post I got curious as I was unsure about how long this project has been brewing at WJ , so I just double-checked our super-secret forum for this project and it was November 2005 that we began the discussions… wow, nearly 18 months in the making, but oh so worth the wait! Download the complete Technology Competencies for Public Access Computing in PDF and start assessing!
Speaking of technology competencies, I am still patiently awaiting the arrival of Sarah Houghton-Jan’s recently published Library Technology Report, Technology Competencies and Training for Libraries — I think it will be the perfect companion to the work done by WJ.