Educated and trained staff members are critical to providing library services in this ever-changing environment of new technologies and formats. National sources indicate that libraries should be earmarking, at a minimum, 6% of their budget for education and training of staff. In response to this need, Lincoln Trail Libraries System, along with the other library systems around the State, devotes a considerable portion of resources to the provision of continuing learning opportunities. In FY2006, Illinois library systems provided more than 1,800 events, ranging from current library trends to technology training classes. Over 21,100 member library staff benefited from this service, with a total of over 85,000 contact hours. In LTLS alone, over 85 events took place in FY2006. Attendance at events in FY2006 numbered over 960 for a total of 3,846 contact hours.
These impressive figures are just part of an ongoing tradition of excellent system services. Education and training have been a part of system services from nearly the beginning of the existence of systems. As libraries and library systems in Illinois grew up together, the library community became more sophisticated. The needs for education and training changed and expanded. Where once systems could rely on system and member staff to provide education and training, they began to need the expertise of outside presenters, agencies, and non-library partners to enhance the type of education they could provide. The pace of technological change and explosive growth of information, coupled with expectations for increasingly sophisticated libraries – whether they are small or large; school, special, public, or academic; rural or urban – furthered the need for education and training.
The challenge of the past decade has been meeting and exceeding expectations for continuing education and training in spite of ever tightening budgets. In FY2004, LTLS introduced a subscription option for education and training to help offset costs and make billing more efficient for member libraries and for the System. CLaSS, the first such option offered by Illinois library systems, has been an overwhelming success. Now in its 4th year, CLaSS continues to be a viable option for affordable continuing education and training. For more information about CLaSS and our current offerings, go to: http://www.ltls.org/ce.html.