Customer Service: It’s Not Rocket Surgery
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surgical-instruments-81489One of the things I miss most in my current job is providing customer service on the front line. Sure, my work as director of continuing education and training at the Georgia Public Library Service entails a high degree of customer service; it’s just that the service I provide is more internally-focused on the staffs of libraries rather than externally focused on the customers we serve throughout the Georgia community. I thrive on knowing that my labor can make a difference in the life of someone else, so I’ve always strived to put my heart into my work. Being several degrees removed from the front line and directly serving a smaller pool of people (Georgia’s 3100 public library staff in my current job versus 810,000 residents as a librarian in one of Georgia’s large, suburban system), there are simply fewer opportunities to receive kudos. However, even though my audiences are different and the thank you’s come less frequently, my approach to service remains the same.

Providing excellent customer service is not rocket surgery, as a mentor of mine lamely joked. Sure, there are elements to service that might align with one organization, but not another; however, I believe there are truisms that apply to all organizational cultures and all audiences, internal and external. I’m no guru and I do not have all of the answers, but below are the principles that have guided me throughout my career.

1. I spend more time working than I do with my family and friends, so I’m going to do a kick ass job in the process.

2. I might not know you, but I’m going to respect you. After all, I tacitly expect the same from you.

3. Courtesy and kindness are currency. The more I give away, the richer I’ve become.

4. Own your mistakes. If you screw up, admit it, apologize, and move on.

There’s nothing groundbreaking here when it comes to customer service. Your job is important, so perform it with dignity. Give respect. Play nice in the sandbox. No one expects you to be perfect.

If you’d like to learn more about inspired service from companies renowned for their ways of managing customer relationships, check out this month’s featured book in GLEAN, The Kindness Revolution. Author Ed Horrell provides examples of how customer-focused companies such as Chick-fil-A, Nordstrom, and St. Jude Children’s Research Center, create a “kindness revolution” that builds loyal customers, prosperous organizations, and a better way of life.

If you’re looking for more brass tacks learning to solve challenging customer service situations, try the short course Dealing with Sticky Situations created by one of our partners, the Colorado State Library. It won’t always be sunshine, kindness, and rainbows, but everyone has the ability to resolve a challenging situation.

What are your rules for providing excellent customer service?

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The GLEAN Revolution Continues
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New GLEAN UI: Skillport 8

The GLEAN revolution continues on July 14, 2014. With a redesigned modern user interface, GLEAN will provide streamlined access to courses, books, and videos, tablet optimization so you can learn on the go, and improved community functionality for interacting with your colleagues. Register today and step into the future. The new frontier in library learning awaits.

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It’s Gonna Be May
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I can't resist a good meme.  Yes, I'm late, but that's the story of my life.  Anyhow, on to the goods.  

May is always a busy time for public libraries.  For some of us, activities related to closing out the fiscal year loom ominously around the corner.  Others among us find their hands trembling with fear and excitement as they gear up for summer reading programs.  More still are taking stock of their continuing education and crunching the numbers to see if they have enough contact hours to renew their librarian certification.  Even though right now you May not (lame pun intended, thank you very much) have time to scour through the awesome entirety of GLEAN's catalog to find resources that fit your fancy, we’re leveraging the wisdom of crowd to give you a short list of programs that you can access to continue learning and growing.  

What’s New in GLEAN?

In the Recently Added folder (Catalog–>Just for Libraries–>Recently Added), you’ll find six new webinar archives from our partners over at InfoPeople:

 

Top Lynda Courses

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GLEAN Goes Mobile; Oil Change Optional
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Kia_Sedona_LX_SWBThis past Saturday, I found myself stuck at the car dealership.  My wife’s van was several hundred miles overdue for an oil change, the breaks were squealing, and starting about a month ago, we noticed that the transmission was occasionally hard shifting.  I met with a service advisor upon arrival, and after explaining the situation to him, he escorted me to the customer lounge.  As he turned to leave, I noticed him shake his head ever-so-slightly, his body language communicating what his mouth could not: “Dude, it’s the busiest day of the week.  You’re going to be here for a while.”  To say that I had a little extra time on my hands would be an understatement.
 

There are a few things I never leave home without: my wallet, my keys, and my portable devices.  Armed with my Lumia 820 (I happen to really like Windows Phone 8, thank you very much), iPad, and an unhealthy addiction to learning and information, I’m never afraid of idle time.  Bring it.  Naturally, with a couple of hours to kill at the dealership, I immediately hopped into learning mode.  What do I feel like exploring today?  It’s always the first question into my guided inquiry for constructively beating boredom.

GLEAN

That was the answer.  I wanted to take the upgraded version of GLEAN for a spin, and thanks to the mobile compatibility introduced with the Skillport 7.3 upgrade two weeks ago, I could now do that from a portable device.  For clarification, Skillport is the name of the learning management system that serves as the backbone of GLEAN.

I first tried accessing GLEAN from my Lumia via Internet Explorer.  It didn’t work.  However, when I attempted to log in from my iPad via Safari, I was taken to an aesthetically pleasing, albeit minimalistic mobile log in screen.  After entering my user name, password, and allowing pop ups, I was in Skillport Mobile.  I absolutely had a geek moment in the customer lounge, nerd laughing out loud and excitedly explaining to woman sitting next me that I was learning on the go.  She kind of smiled and nodded and went back to watching the X Games.

 

SearchSearch screen in Skillport Mobile.  It's a little naked.

The first thing I noticed was how bare it all was.  There is a search bar along the top and icons for Search, My Feed, My Plan, and My Progress along the bottom.  The rest of the screen is empty real estate to ensure fast operation.  With there being no option to browse the catalog from here, I entered in a test search term, marketing.  Even on a somewhat sluggish wifi connection, the 4624 results came back quickly.  Most importantly, the books, courses, briefs, and videos that the search retrieved are mobile-compatible by default.  If you want to see all of the content that fits your search – both mobile and non-mobile ready – just hit the Actions button and then Show All.  I went from having 4624 results to 5062.

Search ResultsMuch of GLEAN's content has been optimized for mobile; just look at all of those search results.

Accessing content was also simple.  For example, I was interested in trying out a course to see how it would behave on my iPad.  I expanded Courses from my results list and selected Marketing Essentials: Marketing and Ethics.  At the course overview screen, I was greeted with a description and also given the options to view course topics (called Section Hits), add it to My Plan, or play the course.  I decided to push play.  The class loaded into a sleek player that filled my screen when in landscape mode.  Although the course is the exact same version that you’ll get by using GLEAN on a desktop computer, I found that it just looks better and feels more intuitive on my iPad. 

Course PlayerDear Course Player: We like big buttons and we cannot lie.

Watching a video and reading a book were child’s play, because of the unified interface of Skillport Mobile.  Books 24×7 content is folded so neatly into the mobile experience that if you’re not a frequent GLEAN user, you might think that Books 24×7 was gone completely.  This is because you can view a book or video through Skillport Mobile without having to access Books 24×7 separately.  The players for videos and books are not as sleek as the course player, but they are functional and work flawlessly with touch.  You can even listen to audio books now without having to download them to a computer first.  Just do a search for “audio edition”, find something to listen to, and stream away.

Book The book viewer is woven seamlessly into the mobile interface.  

The three hours I spent waiting for my wife’s van to be serviced flew by.  I finished half of Marketing Essentials: Marketing and EthicsI listened to chapter one of Breaking Out: How to Build Influence in a World of Competing Ideas.  I even learned about AirDrop for iOS 7.  I was so stoked from geeking out on GLEAN’s newest feature that I forgot to feed myself before going home.  My wife couldn’t figure out why I was so happy when I walked in the house, but it didn’t take her long to realize why.  A few minutes later, she comes into the kitchen to discover me with my 15 month-old son on my lap holding my iPad.

“OK, son, you gotta check this out.  GLEAN is freaking awesome.”

Have you had an opportunity to try GLEAN on an iPad, Android device, or Blackberry?  If you need help, download the quick start guides for using Skillport Mobile on a tablet or smartphone.  What has been your experience?  How do you plan on taking advantage of learning on the go?

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A Novella for November
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Hello, strangers.  It’s been a while since my last update.   Between any of my four kids getting sick, aggravating my sciatica, and visiting individual library systems to present at staff development days, having a moment to sit down and write has been impossible.  However, I’ve decided to make it a priority today to fill you in on a few GLEAN updates that excite me.  My selfish hope is that my learning geekdom is as contagious as my baby’s cold, and will spread on to you.  You know I like giving stuff away.

I’ll start by celebrating our early success with GLEAN.  October was our busiest month to date bringing in over 4,000 logins, 350+ course completions, and bumping our year-to-date cumulative system usage to over 1,400 hours of learning, which does not include Lynda.com use, or time I spend administering the system.  I’ve seen some successful e-learning program launches during my career, but ours is by far the strongest yet.  I admit that I’m biased, but the reality is that Georgia libraries have staffs that not only promote lifelong learning, but also practice what they preach.  We also opened up GLEAN to others in the library community during October, and I’m happy to see our K-12 library peeps, academic library staffers, and our partners at GALILEO coming on board.

November brings along even more changes.  The Skillport learning management system (georgialibraries.skillport.com), which is the backbone of GLEAN will be getting an upgrade before the end of the month.  While the end user interface will not change much, major improvements are being made to the backend that will enhance the system’s functionality.  Primary among these enhancement will be that the Skillport 7.3 upgrade will bring mobile optimization to the site.  I won’t go into all of the details here, but be on the lookout for me to host a few online overviews of the enhancements in the upcoming weeks.

We also have some updates to courses in our catalog.  First and foremost, I have finally fixed the ABLE courses the Idaho Commission for Libraries, so that they report completions properly.  If you are unfamiliar, these are excellent primers for people who are new to libraries or who have not attended library school, and the courses cover technical servicescollection development, and public services.  I’ve emailed the 400+ people who were enrolled in the problematic ABLE courses earlier today with instructions on how to rectify their completion statuses. 

I have also listened to an excellent suggestion from a colleague of mine at the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System.  She asked if it was possible for GLEAN users to receive notification of new “just for libraries” learning assets that have been inserted to the catalog.  While I currently do not have that capability, I have created a Recently Added folder to the Just for Libraries portion of the catalog, so that you can see only items that have been placed in GLEAN during the last 30 days.  New to the catalog this month with more to be added in the upcoming days are select sessions from the Library 2.013 Conference and a Carterette Series Webinar hosted by the Georgia Library Association.  These sessions are:

Librarians in the 21st Century (60 minutes)

Best Practices for Serving Non-English Speaking Hispanics in the Public Library Setting (41 minutes)

7 Ways Public Libraries Can Impact Student Learning (30 minutes)

Leveraging Visual Literacy for Communication (60 minutes)

I’ll end on a personal note by sharing my current Lynda.com playlist devoted to creating interactive e-books.  As a content creator (course developer, aspiring videographer, and web design tinkerer), I’m always looking for new ways to share ideas and promote learning without boring the crap out of people.  Interactive e-books have been on my radar for some time, and now that we have access to Lynda.com, why not turn interest into action?

So ends my novella for November.  Back to adding courses to GLEAN.   

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Getting Started With GLEAN
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This presentation provides an overview to using GLEAN, the Georgia Library Education Access Network, for Georgia's library staff. Learn what you can expect to find in GLEAN, how to use portions of the system to manage your learning, how to contribute to community discussions, and how to take your learning on the go. 



Presentation developed by Karen Douglas from original source files created by Jay Turner.
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BOGO
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GLEAN for the Masses!
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GLEAN login 3_veatch_edits061213

You may have heard the buzz surrounding GLEAN — the Georgia Library Education Access Network — Georgia Public Library Service’s one-stop shop for continuing education and training, launched to public library staff across the state in July and offering self-paced courses, professional development ebooks, instructional videos, library-specific content, and a social networking utility for library staff to learn from, and with, each other.   Beginning October 10, 2013, GPLS invites all active staff of Georgia’s K-12 public school libraries, academic libraries serving Georgia’s not-for-profit colleges and universities, and employees of GALILEO to engage with Georgia’s public library staff by joining the GLEAN community!

To get in on the fun, beginning October 10th, just visit the CE page on GPLS’s website at georgialibraries.org/cetraining/ and click the “Request an Account” link under the Access GLEAN heading.  Be sure to browse the blog posts  while you’re there for the latest and greatest news in library learning.  There is even a GLEAN preview while you can watch while waiting for access to open on October 10th.  You may also see the GLEAN FAQ for more details about all GLEAN has to offer. 

I will be presenting an informative session, GLEANing the Riches of Continuing Education with GPLS at COMO on October 10 at 2:30pm.   Consider attending my presentation to learn the myriad ways you can use GLEAN to support your personal and professional development goals.

Hope to see you at COMO – or in GLEAN – on October 10th.

 

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Get Your Learn On With “Just for Libraries”
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library learning

One of the major focus areas of GPLS’s continuing education and training program is providing convenient and relevant learning opportunities to support core skills for library staff, as well as developing and fostering awareness of issues and trends that affect the operations of libraries.  Since launching GLEAN at the beginning of the month, we have added several webinar archives, a short tutorial, and an online class to the catalog under the Just for Libraries folder.  These assets are all specific to libraries and cover topical areas that might be of interest to you.  If you’re looking to get your library learn on, below are a few GLEAN e-learning resources I recommend. 

And don’t stop there – this is just the tip of the iceberg.  Be sure to access GLEAN on a regular basis and see what new content we have added that is Just for Libraries.

Course

Mandated Reporter Essentials

Duration: 30 minutes

*Counts as .5 CE hours for librarian certification renewal

This course is designed to help library staff recognize the signs of child abuse and neglect and your legal obligations related to reporting such suspected cases.

Webinar Archives

Handling Challenging Customer Situations: What Do I Do Now? (Part 1)

Duration: 1 hour

*Counts as 1 CE hour for librarian certification renewal

To a great extent, libraries’ users behave within the framework of acceptable social norms. But a subset of users in all libraries – large, small, urban, rural, suburban, special and academic – behave outside these norms, placing stress on the staff and other users. Whether the behaviors are exhibited by those who are homeless, mentally ill or just plain rude, providing your staff with limit-setting and self-care skills can turn challenging situations into empowering ones. San Francisco Public Library has turned to other City agencies to assist staff in gaining skills and strategies for responding to these situations.

Handling Challenging Customer Situations: What Do I Do Now? (Part 2)

Duration: 1 hour

*Counts as 1 CE hour for librarian certification renewal

A partnership between the San Francisco Public Library and the local Department of Public Health resulted in the placement of a social worker at the Main Library to link users to housing and social services. Eventually a job-training component was added, providing opportunities to develop marketable skills for people who had been homeless. Meet and hear the story of a library outreach worker who helps herself by helping others.

Tutorial

What is a Library Database?

Duration: 6 minutes

Learn what sort of information you might find in library databases and understand when to use them appropriately for research.

If you work in a public library in Georgia and you do not currently have a GLEAN account, you can sign up for one here

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GLEAN Access for Non-Public Library Staff
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supply and demand

On June 10, 2013, GPLS invited Georgia’s public libraries to participate in an exclusive pre-registration window for GLEAN, the Georgia Library Education Access Network, so that staff members could obtain a unique GLEAN “seat license”.  The response far exceeded expectations with 36 library systems pre-registering for over 2,000 user accounts before the July 15 cutoff date.  The popularity of GLEAN further illustrates that continuing education and training remain high priorities for public libraries.

The downside to the tremendous response and demand for GLEAN is that GPLS must currently limit GLEAN registration and access to persons currently employed by a public library.  We have a finite number of licenses that we are able to provide.  Opening up GLEAN access right now to those who are not currently employed by a Georgia public library would most likely put us over our license limit.  We are asking for your patience while we assess the situation and look into ways that we might eventually be able to bring GLEAN to the rest of the Georgia library community as we had initially planned.

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