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Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, Morrison Regional Branch

Empower staff to learn on their own

Charlotte Mecklenburg Library

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"One of the most impressive things for me is that our staff have time to explore the many online databases and services we offer our patrons... I saw the direct payoff just last week as I walked by the circulation desk and saw a staff person with a computer screen turned around showing Zinio to a patron."

Susan Green
Branch Manager for the Morrison Regional Branch of
Charlotte Mecklenburg Library

In February 2013, WebJunction hosted a webinar, "Self-Directed Achievement: If You Give Library Staff an Hour," with Jami Carter and her team from the Tooele City Library in Utah. We heard from a number of libraries in response that they had begun to use the Self-Directed Achievement model presented in the webinar to address staff training and development needs and that they were seeing impactful results. Susan Green, branch manager for the Morrison Regional Branch of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library in Charlotte, North Carolina, told us about the results she saw in her library after implementing this program.

"I asked my staff, 'If you had one hour per week for self-directed training, meaning you could spend an hour training on anything you wanted that pertained to the job, can you think of something you would work on?' Every single employee, without hesitation, immediately came up with something they would like to do."

"If you had one hour per week for self-directed training, meaning you could spend an hour training on anything you wanted that pertained to the job, can you think of something you would work on?"

With her staff and managers on board, Susan got approval from her Director and created a program giving her staff an hour of self-directed learning every week, time they called "Happy Hour." Staff loved having time to learn and expressed pleasure in "not feeling guilty" about learning things that interest them. As it turns out, the things that interest staff also improve service for patrons.

With a positive response from her staff—and positive results for her patrons—Susan got in touch with Jami to thank her for sharing the model in her webinar. Jami responded by sharing some more of her thoughts on the benefits of self-directed achievement:

"Personalized. Invaluable. Empowering. These are some of the words used by staff members to describe their experiences with self-directed achievement. These are also words we want community members to use when describing our libraries. It just makes sense. When we are allowed an hour each week to learn the way library users do, we simply become better at knowing and delivering our product. By redirecting roughly 2 percent of our total staff hours to training, the return on investment is astounding."

You can view the recording of the "Self Directed Achievement" webinar, along with notes, slides and other resources on the WebJunction site.

For more details about how to make the program work in your library, contact Susan directly through e-mail at sgreen@cmlibrary.org.

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Library at a glance

  • Located in Charlotte, North Carolina
  • The library received more than 3 million in-person visits and 29 million Web page views in FY2013, and helped answer more than 1 million reference questions
  • The library employees 367 staff members, including 282 full time and 85 temporary staff  

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