You’ve probably heard the news that UT-Austin has initiated a plan to cut $14.6 million in expenditures for 2010 – 2011. Everyone on campus has been looking for places to trim back, trying to decide what is core and essential and what is just “nice to have.”
The UT Libraries has a long-standing commitment to staff training and professional development and that commitment has not wavered during these tough economic times. However, we have had to find creative ways to provide this training with fewer financial resources.
One approach we have taken is a program called Learning Breaks. Every other week, someone from the Libraries staff will do two 30 minute presentations, one in-person and one online through our online meetings software, about a topic in which they have expertise. This approach has allowed us to offer trainings on a wide variety of topics ranging from Web 2.0 applications such as Twitter, Flickr, wikis and blogs to time management practices such as managing your to-do list.
Since these topics are suggested by staff we know they fulfill a need. What’s more, the benefits of Learning Breaks go beyond what is learned in the training; this peer-to-peer model also allows the Libraries to recognize and value the expertise and diverse talents of the staff. And by incorporating ongoing training into the work day on a regular basis, Learning Breaks send a message that library staff are worth the investment.
Catherine Hamer is Interim Associate Director for User Services.