Background: The Biomedical Libraries have recently undergone a shift in how research and information services are provided, with staff providing more ready reference services and utilizing the LibAnswers and RefAnalytics systems to triage and track user interactions. These are new expectations for non-librarian staff, who comprise a mix of long-serving and newer staff members. It was necessary to assess competencies and design training opportunities for staff with the primary objective of increasing confidence and skill with providing reference services. As a secondary objective we sought to foster a new culture of learning and ongoing professional development in the libraries.
Description: A month-long training series for LibAnswers and RefAnalytics was delivered to prepare staff for the system transition, and conversation during that training as well as review of preliminary data from RefAnalytics revealed additional areas in need of development. The expansion of the professional development program for staff included the design and implementation of a Consumer Health training, a Ready Reference Round Up, and the establishment of a monthly Biomedical Libraries Lunch and Learn in which any staff member can present on a topic of interest and expertise to their colleagues. The most substantial undertaking has been a competency-based training program for Information Access Assistants (IAAs), a self-paced course delivered through Canvas that each IAA completes to achieve baseline competency expectations. This course is being used for assessment and development of current staff as well as for training new IAAs.
Conclusion: The staff professional development program has been successful in encouraging collaborative learning and increasing staff confidence and skill with patron interactions. Staff members have welcomed the opportunities to learn and develop skills, and initial assessment of the data in RefAnalytics indicates quality improvement in reference interactions and less transferring of questions to librarians. Additional trainings are planned for the coming year and assessment is ongoing, particularly for the competency-based training program.