Onboarding 2.0: Methods of Designing and Deploying Effective Onboarding Training for Academic Libraries

About the Book

This book provides a comprehensive overview of onboarding library staff, paraprofessionals, and student workers in academic libraries. This book details examples of current literature regarding onboarding and libraries, and highlights the use of cases concerning institutions’ efforts creating onboarding programs for library staff. The chapters in this collection focus on a variety of onboarding practices geared towards training new hires within academic libraries. The use of cases provided emphasizes practical suggestions to improve processes and are often applicable to both library staff and student workers. This book is a must read for all administrators, trainers, and instructional designers as tips, best practices, and lessons learned are applicable to any academic department seeking innovative ways to onboard their staff. The contributors to this collection are associated with colleges and universities from around the United States. The authors have a broad range of educational and professional experience and offer unique insights into the wide variety of methods utilized to design and provide onboarding in academic libraries. This book fills in the gap concerning the current literature for academic administrators, library staff, instructional designers, and trainers.

Kind Words

An exceptional compilation of must-read chapters focused on effective leadership in academic libraries!  Successful onboarding of personnel fosters a positive and proactive environment of support, dedication, and creativity.  Academic library leaders, and those aspiring to such positions, will gain insight into foundational aspects of generating and sustaining  a strong and progressive workplace.

Dr. Gary M. Pitkin

Dean of University Libraries (retired), International Consultant, Editor-in-Chief of four LIS journals, University of Norther Colorado

This volume is a lively, readable survey of best practices for onboarding library employees. Chapters vary in focus from historical perspectives to strategies for dealing with student works and Generation Y and helping employees understand both the culture and values of the library community. The authors build on research and case studies to provide a bounty of helpful ideas and practices.

John T. Harwood, Ph.D.

Associate Vice Provost for Information Technology Services (emeritus), The Pennsylvania State University

About the Editors

Monica D.T. Rysavy, Ph.D.

Editor

As the Director of Institutional Research and Training for Goldey-Beacom College in Wilmington, Delaware, Monica leads all institutional research and data analysis projects for the college. Her office provides faculty and staff training support by developing new training offerings (asynchronous and synchronous face-to-face and online programs) on a variety of instructional technology, survey research, and data management/interpretation topics.

Russell Michalak, MLIS

Editor

As the Director of the Library, Archives, & Learning Center at Goldey-Beacom College, Rusty oversees the annual budget, supervises librarians and paraprofessionals, manages the delivery of research, information, instructional services, the tutoring center, and archives. Before joining GBC, he worked in various roles at the Libraries of the Claremont Colleges, Duke University, and the University of Utah.

Kind Words

I designed my first onboarding program in 1993. Over the last 25 years, I’ve seen firsthand just how many employee successes and struggles have their roots in what happened—or didn’t—during those crucial early months on the job. Effective onboarding can’t guarantee that you will retain good employees or turn everyone into star performers, but ineffective onboarding virtually guarantees that you will spend an inordinate amount of time and effort correcting problems that could have been prevented. The editors and authors of this book have assembled a tremendous resource for library administrators and managers to draw on. The examples found in these pages will help you design an onboarding program that accounts for best practices from the literature, lessons learned from real library life, and the aspirations and infrastructure within your own organization.

Melanie Hawks

HR Manager, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah

Comments from the Contributing Authors

Nicole Stayton Evans, DBA, SPHR

Nicole Stayton Evans, DBA, SPHR

Goldey-Beacom College, Wilmington, Delaware

Contact Dr. Evans

Chapter 1 – Onboarding: A Historical Perspective

What do you most want readers to take away from your chapter?

In Chapter 1, readers will learn how onboarding has changed over time. They will also discover how it varies by industry.

What do you believe is the most important consideration when developing programs/activities/training for onboarding in academic libraries?

The most important consideration when developing training for onboarding is to make sure that it properly engages employees.

What’s one “lesson learned” you could share regarding onboarding in academic libraries that you wouldn’t repeat and why?

Begin onboarding as early as possible. It is important to begin preparing onboarding programs before a new employee starts work. Then when they arrive on day 1 they should be properly welcomed to the team.

One More Tip…

Effectiveness and consistency are crucial for the success of onboarding programs.

Sian Brannon, Ph.D.

University of North Texas, Denton, Texas

Chapter 2 – Onboarding in Academic Libraries: A Summary of Past Research

 

Dani Wellemeyer, MLS

Jess Williams, MLS

Dani Wellemeyer, MLS and Jess Williams, MLS

University of Missouri-Kansas City, Kansas City, MO

Chapter 3 – Principles for Designing Active and Adaptable Onboarding Experiences for Library Employees

What do you most want readers to take away from your chapter?

You don’t need money or stuff to create a meaningful onboarding experience for your employees! The tools and technologies you already have can do the job. Creative uses of your library’s established tools can make onboarding a fun experience that teaches team members on the job – sneaky learning!

What do you believe is the most important consideration when developing programs/activities/training for onboarding in academic libraries?

The onboarding program you design for your new employees is their first experience with your organizational culture. If their onboarding experience is lackluster, disorganized, or not in sync with the way other new employees at your library are onboarded…that will be their impression of your organization and their retention will be at risk.

What’s one “lesson learned” you could share regarding onboarding in academic libraries that you wouldn’t repeat and why?

Leaving onboarding up to each supervisor, department, or division in your organization is not a good idea. While it may seem at first like a way to empower groups to customize the content of onboarding for their new employees, in fact it divides new employees into groups of people who may be introduced to your library in entirely different ways. In a worst case scenario, a lack of coordinated onboarding for the whole organization disenfranchises individuals hired into a department for which the supervisor doesn’t have the skills or desire to create a thorough onboarding plan. Organization-wide onboarding is a matter of equity; all new employees deserve equitable opportunities to succeed at your library and the introduction and training they receive in their first days is the foundation for future success.

Rebeca Peacock, MSLIS, M.Ed.

Margie Ruppel, MLS

Rebeca Peacock, MSLIS, M.Ed. and Margie Ruppel, MLS

Boise State University, Boise, ID

Chapter 4 – Holistic Onboarding of a Generation Y Team Member

Xinyue Ren, M.Ed.

Xinyue Ren, M.Ed.

Ohio University, Athens, Ohio


Chapter 5 – The Integration of Social Media in Redesigning an Onboarding Experience for Student Workers in an Academic Library 

What do you most want readers to take away from your chapter?

There is no perfect model for every library. Through discussing the design model for my university library, I would like to introduce an idea of design thinking: “solve the correct problem.” This thinking may help you understand how to design effective onboarding experiences for your library employees or student workers based on your specific contexts.

What do you believe is the most important consideration when developing programs/activities/training for onboarding in academic libraries?

I believe that the most important consideration is to design the training program for the target learners. The designers should consider who are the target learners, what prior experiences or skills they have, and what are their needs before developing the training program.

What’s one “lesson learned” you could share regarding onboarding in academic libraries that you wouldn’t repeat and why?

The onboarding program cannot be designed once for all. Library staff need to regularly evaluate the onboarding experience and carefully define the best solutions to address the newly emerging problems.

Jill Morningstar

Jill Morningstar

Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan

Chapter 6 – Onboarding through Mentoring at Michigan State University Libraries: A case study

 

What do you most want readers to take away from your chapter?

Any library can implement an onboarding program even there are limited resources. The first few months of a new librarian’s career are crucial. Compassion, empathy, and providing a listening ear are important for their wellbeing and overall impression of their new workplace. Onboarding programs can provide a good structure to accomplish these goals.

What do you believe is the most important consideration when developing programs/activities/training for onboarding in academic libraries?

Structure is key but also flexibility. Every librarian has a different background and experience, so it’s not a one size fits all program. You don’t want any individual librarian to feel lost in a larger group, so spending one-on-one time with each librarian and providing them with a sense of community with their cohorts is a good balance.

What’s one “lesson learned” you could share regarding onboarding in academic libraries that you wouldn’t repeat and why?

9 am Friday meetings! That meeting time was a little too early. Our first cohort met during that time just as librarians were getting into work. We pushed the meeting time back an hour, and we do have more engagement and participation now. Not everybody is a morning person, myself included!

One More Tip…

Don’t forget to provide access to resources outside of the library! Moving to a new place, starting a new job, and living in a new area can make it difficult for new librarians to find a good work/life balance. Recommendations for grocery shopping, restaurants, pet stores, doctors, dentists, mental and physical health resources, and tips for getting around the area are just as important as learning the library and the campus.

Christina Gola & Miranda Bennett

Christina Gola and Miranda Bennett

University of Houston, Houston, Texas and University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina

Contact Miranda Bennett

Chapter 7: Going beyond the tip of the iceberg: Helping new librarians navigate organizational culture and values 

 

What do you most want readers to take away from your chapter?

Openly discussing your library’s organizational culture with new hires is key to their success and to improving that culture over time.

What do you believe is the most important consideration when developing programs/activities/training for onboarding in academic libraries?

Providing a consistent, well-documented framework that can be adapted to the needs and interests of each new hire makes onboarding easier and more effective for everyone.

What’s one “lesson learned” you could share regarding onboarding in academic libraries that you wouldn’t repeat and why?

Don’t onboard from memory! Document the process, including changes you make for each new colleague.

One More Tip…

The enthusiasm everyone feels when welcoming a new colleague creates an opportunity for positive change in a library’s organizational culture. A strong onboarding program helps you take full advantage of that opportunity.

Adam H. Lisbon, MSIS

Adam H. Lisbon, MSIS

University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, Colorado

Contact Adam H. Lisbon, MSIS

Chapter 8 – Best Practices for Creating Cloud & Community Based Onboarding

What do you most want readers to take away from your chapter?

I hope my chapter helps remove the barriers to creating an onboarding program where everyone can contribute to helping their new colleagues succeed. Giving a roadmap to your new colleagues helps them feel welcome. Allowing experienced colleagues to contribute to that roadmap reveals how much everyone tries to take care of everyone. I think that does a lot of good for everyone’s morale and builds a sense of belonging among library employees.

What do you believe is the most important consideration when developing programs/activities/training for onboarding in academic libraries?

Create an environment where colleagues can open up about how they felt starting their new job at your library. They may be more willing reveal difficult moments or times they felt inadequate, especially if there has not been a dedicated onboarding effort. Those stories really help improve support for new colleagues and can create lasting positive shifts in institutional culture. You’ll also hear happy stories about how someone made a new employee feel welcomed and able to thrive, and you can replicate that in the onboarding process.

What’s one “lesson learned” you could share regarding onboarding in academic libraries that you wouldn’t repeat and why?

Don’t suffer in silence, if you are having trouble adjusting to your new job, others likely feel or have felt the same. When I opened up to my supervisor about some of my own difficulties starting a career in academic libraries, it created momentum from our administration that became a full onboarding program that we continue to improve with the help of consistent feedback from our new hires.

Kind Words

A timely collection that provides historical perspective, literature review, and use cases on onboarding practices in academic libraries. Practical and very useful.

Kornelia Tancheva, Ph.D.

The Hillman University Librarian and Director, ULS, University of Pittsburgh