Training the Trainer: Creating an In-House Professional Development Program

Nicole Potdevin, (M.A., M.L.I.S.) is the Associate University Librarian and Director of Public Services at Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Florham Campus Library in Madison, NJ. She earned a M.A. in Art History and Archaeology from the Institute of Fine Arts – New York University in 2009, and a M.L.I.S. from Rutgers University in 2014. Nicole’s main areas of interest and research are information literacy, professional development, and assessment in academic libraries.
During the summer of 2019, Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Florham Campus Library undertook a twelve-week Training the Trainer Program for librarians to teach each other about current trends in academic librarianship and share our individual areas of expertise. Created and lead by the Library’s Associate University Librarian & Director of Public Services, the purpose of the Program was to inspire her team of librarians to reflect upon their teaching practices, embed the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education in their one-shot information literacy classes, and increase awareness of current pedagogical theories and practices relating to academic librarianship.

Participation in this program was mandatory for five librarians with teaching responsibilities, including the Associate University Librarian & Director of Public Services, but was open to all library staff interested in attending. Each of the five teaching librarians were required to present on at least one topic, with some librarians presenting up to four topics. Topics for presentations included the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education, Legal Research, PowerPoint Best Practices, LibGuides, Instructional Design, and Special Collections & Archives. Presentations occurred once a week and lasted about one hour. While the presentations typically occurred every Tuesday at 10am over the twelve weeks, the small size of the program allowed for some flexibility with scheduling in the event of previously scheduled meetings, vacation time, or other unavoidable conflicts. The Training the Trainer Program was created in-house, therefore there was no financial cost. Because it was held over the summer, it did not interfere with teaching responsibilities and rarely interfered with reference desk coverage.

An anonymous survey at the end of the program demonstrated that while the program was considered to be too time-consuming, the participants greatly enjoyed and valued the opportunity to improve their knowledge of library trends, teaching best practices, and useful software and technology tools for reference and teaching. Participants also appreciated the time to collaborate and exchange ideas with their colleagues. Many of the topics covered during the Training the Trainer Program were adopted by the teaching librarians in their information literacy instruction afterwards during the fall semester. FDU’s Florham Campus Library plans to hold this program again in the summer of 2020 during a more manageable six-week period.


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