Phoenix Public Library Uses Edge to Build Staff Digital Fluency Program

Phoenix Public Library
Phoenix, AZ
Population: 1,464,700
Director: Rita Hamilton

“Edge helps our system prioritize ways to push us to the next level. There are always things we know we want to do, but having the Edge benchmarks helps me to push these issues to the top of the list.”

- Aimee Fifarek, Deputy Library Director, Phoenix Public Library

Delivering on the promise to “connect today’s community to a world of possibilities”, Phoenix Public Library (PPL) added digital and technology literacy as new areas of focus to the 2016-2019 Strategic Plan.

To help meet this priority, Deputy Library Director Aimee Fifarek relies on Edge.

“It’s useful how Edge is set up,” said Fifarek. “It serves as a guide for what you should focus on. It is a great tool to create the mindset for completing things.”

Fifarek uses Edge to assess Phoenix Public Library’s technology, communicate its impact, and plan for the future. As a result, she uses Edge to provide better services to the community in PPL’s efforts to improve digital and technology literacy for customers and staff.

She began working with a group of staff to develop a formal and standardized Digital Fluency support structure for customers.

“Several of our 17 locations have been offering assistance with navigating various devices through hands on assistance we call ‘Device Advice’,” said Fifarek.

Device Advice is a program that allows customers to schedule 30 minute individual training sessions with a library staff member. The session focuses on how to use the device the customer brings in, but it also walks them through the process of accessing the downloadable materials and online resources available through PPL.

The program has been such a success among customers, Fifarek and her colleagues thought staff would benefit from something similar. After completing the Edge Assessment for the second time, she noticed that Phoenix Public Library would improve by having a system-wide approach to ensuring that staff have a standard baseline in the area of technology expertise, addressed in the Edge benchmarks.

“As an organization, we needed to step back and focus on ensuring that our staff at every level had the basic technology skills they need to provide exceptional customer service in a mobile world,” she said.

Using the Edge Resources, Fifarek’s Digital Fluency Team located a competency index for the library field. They used the core technology competencies as well as the public service technology competencies to help shape their thinking going forward.

Phoenix Public Library is scheduled to launch their Digital Fluency Program for all staff, creating a measurable level of knowledge pertaining to Digital Fluency core concepts. The topics covered include basic computer skills, the world wide web, Windows 7, email, social media, information literacy, mobile devices, security, and eMedia that the library provides.

The initial training for staff will focus on learning the basics of mobile devices, specifically the Apple iPad, Amazon Fire, and Samsung Galaxy. Staff gain hands on experience using the devices, which is useful since all locations received a set of the three devices.

In addition to the foundational training, an Intro to eMedia will be offered, preparing staff to better serve customers when accessing eBooks, eAudiobooks, eMusic, eVideo, eNewspapers, eMagazines, eLearning options, and other eResources including databases, job help resources, and more.

“Edge has been a valuable assessment tool as we construct the launch of our staff Digital Fluency Program,” said Fifarek.

Beginning in the spring of 2017, staff will be asked to complete a series of eight self-paced assessments. They must receive 85% or above to receive certification for completing the Digital Fluency Program.

“We reference an emphasis on increasing digital fluency in our current strategic plan and will use Edge’s Peer Comparison Report to make a case for increased staff time devoted to digital fluency training,” she said.

Once the baseline for staff is achieved, the next emphasis will be on ways to proactively meet community priorities. A second phase of the program is already in development, focusing on increasing staff confidence in providing technology based customer service.

“Edge helps our system prioritize ways to push us to the next level,” said Fifarek. “There are always things we know we want to do, but having the Edge benchmarks helps me to push these issues to the top of the list.”