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The staffing profiles of public libraries are currently undergoing much change, and the public interface is increasingly being staffed by non-professional personnel, in many cases with no professional librarians on site to offer advice and experience. This situation requires a well trained and knowledgeable workforce, able to operate in all the practical everyday areas where professional knowledge had previously been necessary to deliver a good frontline service. It is also vital that frontline staff should have a clear understanding of the ethos of public library service provision, a topic widely covered for professional staff in library schools, together with knowledge of the local government context and the various initiatives proposed centrally and locally that impact on user expectation and service delivery.It is of paramount importance that there should be made available accessible training materials addressing these issues for paraprofessional staff in public libraries, and this handbook fulfills that need. It covers all the challenges facing staff on a day-to-day basis in public libraries, including the following knowledge and skills: what is a public library?; the central and local government context; public library services; handling reference enquiries; understanding the legal obligations of the public library; essential ICT skills; reader development and book promotion; working with children and young people; understanding the performance measurement regime; customer care and assertiveness; and developing skills for the future. Downloadable training materials in the format of customizable PowerPoint slides will be available online, making the book easily usable for induction of new staff. This handbook is essential reading for all public library paraprofessional staff and their managers and trainers. In the UK, it will be of great assistance to any individuals wishing to undertake the ACLIP route through "CILIP's Framework of Qualifications", but it also addresses global issues.
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David McMenemy, Lecturer and Christine Rooney-Browne, Researcher, at the Department of Computer and Information Sciences, University of Strathclyde
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