Funded partially by Arts Council England, The Society of Chief Librarians (SCL) wanted to help library staff to recognise the barriers people face when getting online, equip staff to support people with various disability needs, and strengthen their role as digital champions.
For many people in the UK, the local public library is the only place to access free computers. According to ONS data more than 4 million households do not have internet access, and a large part of this group state that barriers, including lack of skills and equipment and access costs, prevent them from connecting to the Internet.
Public libraries offer more than just computer and internet access: most have internet taster sessions aimed at both novice and experienced computer users.
With Learning Pool's Learning Management System (LMS) at the core of the programme, SCL used the Essential Solution to deliver online training across the following five categories:
- The Digital Divide and your role as a Public Library Digital Champion
- Understanding your customers' needs
- Supporting access to online services
- Signposting and referral
- Delivering digital skills
Learners could take advantage of the self-registration functionality which contributed to a streamlined experience and fast tracked their ability to start learning. Learning Pool's support helpdesk were on hand to help manage SCL’s learners and mentor the team into measuring ROI throughout their subscription.
In less than four months, 14,000 public library staff (80% of the workforce) have undertook the SCL five module e-learning programme.
Ciara Eastell, SCL President, said: “Working with Learning Pool on this project has made it possible to deliver an extensive online training programme at low cost and to a tight timeframe. Their expertise has been crucial as we promote the potential of public libraries to be a key venue for digital inclusion work with the most vulnerable in our communities.”
A learner from Southwark's team commented: “This is the first time a training course has been geared to the exact role we perform at the library now. I am often down to do IT Taster sessions with people, and this has been an invaluable resource for me. I have really enjoyed it!”
Paul McElvaney, CEO Learning Pool, said: "Speed, scale and savings are three words that can be used to describe the Society of Chief Librarians' impressive e-learning programme. By using Learning Pool Essential, SCL have been able to upskill over 14,000 librarians within an impressive timescale of less than four months. Our team look forward to continually supporting them on their digital journey."
Local and central Government departments in England rely on libraries as a delivery channel for their digital services. Now, thanks to the SCL programme, most libraries in England have taken steps to improve the digital confidence of staff members in order to help customers even more.