A key component to the success of a digital service is awareness. We’re proud of the the apps, websites and products we create as well as the world class content we provide, but if library patrons aren’t aware that digital reading is an option to them it doesn’t matter how great the experience is. We work hard here at OverDrive to spread the good word about 24/7 access to free books to readers around the world and the most successful libraries are the ones that also evangelize their digital collection. Mid-Continent Public Library (MCPL) is among the very best at spreading the word and they do so by creating a staff of OverDrive Champions and eBook Experts.
MCPL has some excellent best practices in training both their staff as well as their patrons and the results show. Their OverDrive circulation grew by 24% in 2017, exceeding 1.5 digital million checkouts. They have an incredibly organized eBook training program for onboarding new employees. They also provide ongoing training and special programs for “eBook Experts” as well as their community.
Recently, Amy Caviness, Electronic Resources Manager at MCPL, spoke with Michael Evans of our Collection Development Team to share how their training program works. Amy provided a breakdown of the various classes and sessions they make available to staff and patrons:
1.) “Basic Intro to eBooks” – This is a mandatory training for new hires. Staff members are taught how to help patrons with basic OverDrive questions and educated on what Mid-Continent Public Library expects from them as it relates to promoting our eBook and audiobook service.
2.) “eBook Experts” – This is a training program for employees who wish to be certified as eBook Experts. Each library branch has at least one but most branches have multiple eBook Experts. eBook Experts are trained using additional resources in helping patrons and staff members with OverDrive questions and issues. They are taught to effectively use OverDrive Help, and other library help resources pertaining to helping patrons with our digital collection. eBook Experts also train other staff members on how they can assist patrons with digital collection questions and needs. Lastly, during this training, staff members are trained on how to use eBooks and audiobooks on a variety of devices.
3.) Public Classes – MCPL also offers eBook device-specific classes for our community. The classes help patrons better understand how they can use their devices to access and take advantage of our digital collection. Users can also set up individual appointments for hands-on help with their device.
4.) Open Lab – We have a special open lab dedicated to training how to use devices. Staff members can use this lab to practice using our digital collection on a variety of devices. It also allows them to perform different functions on the devices to become more experienced with device-specific functions, enabling them to better assist patrons.
If you’re interested in creating training sessions for your staff or users, you can access our Resource Center for templates and tools to reach your goals. If you don’t have the resources to set up your own staff training courses, your librarians can use our on demand training modules to learn about every aspect of your digital collection as well. Our trainers have created quick video sessions on everything from the user experience, to best practices for Marketplace and anything else you might want to know about your OverDrive service.