3 Tips on Managing a Learning Library

Many organisations nowadays sit on considerable amounts of online courses and other resources for employee learning. However, for many, a lot of the potentially expensive resources might go unused – or even unnoticed! That’s often not because the content is bad. In fact, the content may be perfectly fine from an objective standpoint. It’s just that employees don’t find it contemporary and useful, or that they don’t find it at all. You can solve these kinds of problems and many others by managing your learning library more effectively. Here are 3 tips on how to do that.

Make friends with your search function

Just like Google to a layman, the search function of a learning portal, LMS or LXP can be the best friend to a learning manager. As a librarian, one of your main tasks is to make sure that the content in your library is relevant and contemporary. You’ll also be in charge of getting new pieces of content and information into the library. Now, you could be a visionary curator, who magically predicts what’s going to be the next big thing people want to learn. But that’s unlikely. Instead, you likely need a more “customer-centric” way of managing your learning library.

That’s where you should make friends with the search function of your learning resource portal or even the likes of your company intranet. Those kind of systems should be able to record the search terms people are using. Visualising that into a word cloud can be a helpful exercise in understanding what’s really being searched for, i.e. what the learners really want. You can then determine whether you’re actually catering to that audience and how you could improve.

Make it easier to find your content

If you’ve ever been to a library, you’ll likely have noticed one common thing across all of them. They all employ a system that enables a layman to find his reading with relatively minimum effort. Books are placed based on topics, which are number-coded. Just by knowing the number of your book, you’ll be able to walk right to it. The way we see it, we should strive to have the same kind of efficiency when it comes to our learning resources.

On that front, we should learn from the librarians and spend the time and effort in good category design. In the context of the workplace, these categories could and should likely be aligned with different competency frameworks and career learning paths you may have. Resources could also have a lot of ancillary attributes, like approximate length, complexity level, job level etc. Based on these attributes, we could design a tagging system that helps to ensure the accuracy of content suggestions and offerings.

But don’t forget less is still more

Now search analytics and tagging sounds all fine and dandy, but as librarians, we shouldn’t forget one of the basic rules of learning: less is more. Another main duty of a librarian is to manage the exit funnel. It’s natural that the audience loses interest in some books. It’s likely that some books anticipated to become bestsellers ended up collecting dust on the shelves. Some books should not have been there in the first place.

As a learning leader, it’s important to manage your learning library with the same amount of vigour. Use the analytics, find out what’s collecting dust on your virtual shelf and remove it. Content that is demonstrably not being used is just clogging up your system. Once you have enough of redundant content in your system, you’re back to square one again, where it’s extremely difficult to find the right learning resources. Therefore, when managing your learning library, make sure that you’re pulling stuff off the shelves too, and not just putting more in. And if you think you need help in designing, setting up or managing a learning library, resource portal or a system, don’t hesitate to reach out.