At this year’s 2017 NHLA Spring Conference I participated in an ITS Roundtable session which featured a number of interesting topics for discussion. The free-flow of roundtable discussions is often an ideal atmosphere for the willing exchange of ideas as well as the participation of those who might otherwise be less inclined to share. Topics for discussion included…
- when is the ideal time to offer tech classes
- if libraries video-record their classes, and if so, what recording tools do they use
- whether libraries find a high demand for Consumer Reports, and if so, whether they maintain a separate subscription to CR.org
- how to manage individual tech support sessions
using YouTube as resource for great tech How-Tos
Some libraries reported offering classes at various times, both during the day, on weekends, and in the evenings. In Hooksett, we’ve always found having a consistent time to offer classes makes it easier for folks to plan their schedules for the week (or month) and expect an event always to occur then. In addition, libraries can go the next step by theming the calendar, such as Tech Tuesdays, as we do in Hooksett. In terms of determining the optimal day and time of the week, target audience feedback is always the best source, so for us in Hooksett, Tuesdays at 3:00pm tends to work well with our patrons. Having a consistent event time during the week and month also makes publicity efforts as well as room booking easier to manage. For potentially interested parties who can’t make the set date/time of the classes, the solution for us has been to make all class documents available online and make it easy for patrons to connect with me via a “Book-A-Tech-Librarian” link on our website so that their tech support interests and questions can be addressed in one-on-one sessions. Not only patrons, but also HPL staff, use this form to submit requests for tech support, if I happen to be unavailable when a patron calls or visits in person seeking tech support.
The question of whether libraries are recording their tech support or training sessions was another focus of discussion. This lead to consideration of useful tools for audio/visual recording. Recommended tools for this initiative included TechSmith’s SnagIt, Yeti Blue mic, and the native Windows Problem Steps Recorder that goes beyond screenshots to actual recording of what the user does on the computer, including mouse movements and menu selections. This can be very useful when troubleshooting a problem.
During the session, it was asked whether libraries subscribe to ConsumerReports.org, though I can’t recall what precipitated this question. Regardless, those libraries who do maintain a subscription to the resource raved about its utility and indicated that it was well worth the premium cost, citing that the website is far superior to and more user-friendly in terms of access and content than CR’s publications via EbscoHost.
Tips for managing individual tech support sessions was another topic for discussion. Libraries reported that they offer both drop-in as well as individual tech support sessions to their patrons. For drop-in sessions where multiple patrons may make an appearance, support staff find it easier having recourse to pairing patrons by identical device and/or issue or some other triage approach in order to expedite the support rendering. For issues requiring lengthier attention, recourse is to schedule an individual session. In Hooksett, if a patron seeking tech support stops by unannounced, I usually meet with the patron to determine the nature of the issue, and if it’s something that can be addressed quickly, then I attend to it with the patron immediately, but if the issue requires lengthier consideration or troubleshooting, and is not considered urgent by the patron, I schedule a follow-up with the patron.
I along with a few other session participants mentioned the benefit of using YouTube as a great resource for learning solutions to all kinds of things, not to mention tech issues. I personally subscribe to several Tech-related YouTube channels, including the obvious Microsoft, Apple, Android, Facebook, Google, etc. As a matter of course, I also include any YouTube videos in tech classes, this in addition to the Lynda.com video tutorial resource whose reputation precedes itself.