While the pandemic has meant that each partner is delivering training sessions at their own pace, in line with pandemic restrictions in their country, the librarian training sessions are now well underway! Librarians from all countries were able to participate in the first international online librarian networking event hosted by our partner the Finnish Library Association (FLA) in February, and our partners BSF Belgium, Fundacja Rozwoju Spoleczenstwa Informacyjnego (FRSI) and FLA have successfully started their online ‘live’ training sessions.

Tips for facilitators

As sharing best practices is a key part of the Digital Travellers project, now is a good time to reflect on some of the lessons we have learned so far. Below is a selection of ‘top tips’ for facilitators that have come out of some of our training sessions:

  • DO familiarise yourselves with the different online training tools available. In Poland, our partner FRSI organised specific training sessions for librarians on this.
  • DO think about alternative ways you might be able to reach vulnerable groups. In Finland, librarians have shared their experiences of setting up technical helplines (via telephone) to troubleshoot digital issues. In Poland, some librarians are planning on holding in person one-to-one ‘pre-workshop’ meetings with workshop participants in their libraries, introducing them to online tools used for digital skills workshops. Polish librarians have also found that elderly citizens often seek places to meet new people and talk. Using this as a starting point can therefore be a great way to reach out to this group.
  • DO build on existing events. For example, one library in Belgium now runs their book club online, with participants making short videos to talk about the books they’ve read. Another transformed their monthly Sunday breakfast to an online event. This helps participants develop digital skills in a fun and relaxed way.
  • DO think about the length of your workshops. In Poland, trainers and librarians have found that five short online meetings were more use than two longer ones. 
  • DON’T give up! It may seem obvious, but the hardest thing is often to start delivering workshops. Many other librarians across Europe find facilitation challenging (particularly online) but it gets easier!
  • DON’T think that you have to be a technical genius to deliver digital skills workshops. As a facilitator, much of your role is instead about creating a friendly and reassuring atmosphere. And remember, the resources on the Digital Travellers Database are there to help you with delivering workshops!

Ongoing conversations and challenges

The conversation doesn’t stop here! As we continue the project, we hope to come up with even more ideas for best practice, especially in this time of global pandemic. Indeed, one key area of concern for librarians involved in the project is the difficulty of informing vulnerable groups of library services given pandemic restrictions. We therefore hope to consider this further in our live sessions, as well as in the upcoming March international librarian networking event.

We can’t wait to share more with you as we go forward! In the meantime, why not check out the librarian self-training modules (prepared by BSF Belgium) which are available on the results page.