Indiana Library Leadership Academy participants put skills to use

The 2018-19 Indiana Library Leadership Academy has wrapped up and class members are doing some pretty amazing things in libraries throughout Indiana.

Alisa Burch, Harrison County Public Library director, set up the library’s first ever pop-up library at the Friends of the Harrison County’s “Youth Chicken BBQ Fundraiser.” The pop-up library included a canopy, sign, tables, hot spot, laptop and card scanner so they could issue library cards and register children and adults for the 2019 Summer Reading Program. As teams played exhibition games and got their pictures taken, the library issued 15 new library cards and renewed five others. While registering children and adults for the upcoming summer reading program, they also gave away donated books and promoted programs and services with people of all ages.

Nathan Watson, director of operations at the Bedford Public Library, created Elevate, a program that teaches employability soft skills to all sophomores at Bedford North Lawrence High School in an effort to help fulfill part of the Graduation Pathways requirement. Elevate is a six-session program that uses project-based learning to define, explore and master soft skills through the art of interviewing applicants for a local job. The interviews happened during the sixth session and the Hoosier Hills Credit Union sent a representative who explained that the credit union wanted to hire a teller and that the class was going to “hire” that person.

Watson also partnered with the Jobs for America’s Graduates program. The JAG students were tasked with acting like real job applicants and exhibiting certain soft skills during the interview. The Elevate student had to submit who they hired, what soft skills were displayed and the importance of the skills.

Watson’s program will continue and become a part of a new class titled Preparation for College and Careers which will fulfill a graduation requirement under the new Indiana Department of Education Graduation Pathways.

The Indiana Library Leadership Academy teaches librarians the leadership skills they need to thrive and flourish in their library careers. Planning for the next Indiana Library Leadership Academy to be held in summer 2020 is now underway.

This blog post was written by Kara Cleveland, Professional Development Office supervisor at the Indiana State Library.

Fun and games or secret career-building tool?

When an employee starts a new job, the amount of information that they must digest, learn and assimilate into their professional practices can be overwhelming. Learning all of the new employer’s policies and procedures, the flow of the new job, all of your co-workers’ names and a myriad of other details can seem overwhelming. Dealing with this information overload takes skills that are often times called soft skills; for example, communications, critical thinking, leadership, problem solving and teamwork to name just a few. The Society for Human Resource Management, and human resource managers themselves, often rank a lack of these soft skills as a deficiency in their new hires.1

It should therefore come as little surprise that academia has been struggling for the last few years to find ways to teach these soft skills.

Board games can be a great sneaky way to help with fostering these skills. In many modern games, especially Euro-games, the players must take in information, process it and make decisions based on the rules of the game and the information about the game at that moment. Players also must talk to each other, sometimes even working together to beat the game as a team, and often solve problems that the game presents to them. Whether players know each other or are strangers, the social interactions that are created can help those players improve their social skills. In some parts of the world they are even being used to help with loneliness and mental health problems.2 Games are now even being used as a replacement for golf in corporate America.3

Whether it’s students in a class picking up on the concepts of conflict management while playing a collective game like Pandemic or children practicing scope and sequence by playing a game like Leo Goes to the Barber, board games can help all of our patrons with the skills that many employers are desperately seeking, thus preparing them for the future. If you are an academic librarian who would like to learn more about how to implement these ideas in an instructional session or an outreach event; a public librarian who has already been using games and would like additional advice or one who is unsure of where to start; or a school librarian looking for ideas for an after school program I am here to assist you! Please feel free to send me you thoughts, ideas or questions.

This post was written by George Bergstrom, Southwest regional coordinator, Professional Development Office, Indiana State Library.