Teaching and training skills

Teaching and training are essential skills for all Knowledge and Library Services staff.

Examples of teaching and training opportunities which Knowledge and Library Service staff encounter daily include:

  • Being asked how to connect to the printer
  • How to search the catalogue to locate a book
  • Delivering formal training about a new electronic resource

What are the key skills needed to be a trainer?

Knowledge of what you are going to train on is a key aspect. 

This will help your confidence levels when you are speaking to a large group either face to face or online.

If you know your subject area, then you will know how to answer questions.

For more formal training you will work to a lesson plan, which sets out what you need to cover on a particular topic or database during the session.

Patience is important as some learners may not have a formal academic background so you will need to find different ways of supporting them.

We all learn at different paces. As a trainer you will find different ways of explaining and presenting the information in a format which is relevant to your learner.

Some staff and learners may prefer a lecturer approach, whereby they sit and listen; others would like to practice what they have just been told.

Listen to your learners, find out how much they already know, so that you can make sure that you are not telling them information they are already familiar with.

What teaching qualifications do I need?

There is currently no teaching qualification specifically for Knowledge and Library service staff.  A range of teaching courses is available:

Initial teacher qualification

Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector will introduce you to teaching theory and give you a basic understanding of teaching,

At the end of the course you will need to teach a topic of your choice.

More advanced qualifications

If you want to expand your knowledge you can then go on to study a Level 5 Diploma in Education and Training”.

This is one or two-year course, depending on how you choose to study.  It is more intense and you will have to complete a set number of teaching hours.

Digital skills

Training has evolved and moved online, and there are a variety of online platforms which can be used to train no matter whether learners are at work or home.

Although the basic teaching principles remain the same, you will need bring in interaction activities:

  • chat
  • breakout rooms
  • polls.

These stimulate and help learners to feel part of the session.

Example from practice

During my career I have delivered training on a wide variety of topics including study skills, using electronic resources, and understanding critical appraisal.

I found it a rewarding aspect of Knowledge and Library Service work. My training sessions ranged from teaching large groups in lecture theatres to working alongside individuals on a specific project or task.

The work is varied, and each session is different, being able to adapt your sessions to the needs of your learners is a key skill.

Finding out why the learner has asked for the training can helped me understand what they needed.

During my career, I have offered training at specific times and locations on a variety of topics, but by far the most popular was individual training sessions that could be tailored to meet the specific needs of the learner.

The growth of online training sessions provided more flexibility for staff to attend, as I was no longer reliant on classrooms or space. 

Developing and keeping up to date with innovative ways to use the various online classrooms functionality allowed me to enhance my training which in turn allowed me to better support the learner by delivering a more engaging session.

Taking the time to gather and reflect on feedback ensured that I learnt from issues that arose during the training session as well making sure that the learners needs were met.

Being part of a community of practice of trainers has helped me to share and learn from colleagues as well as introduce me to new ways of teaching.

by Nicki Forgham-Healey


Blog Posts

8 Tips for Teaching Library Sessions Online

Tips from Ned Potter for retooling your sessions to work in a webinar type environment. [Last checked: 30/10/20]


Petty, G. (2014) Teaching Today: A practical guide (5th ed.), Oxford University Press

A comprehensive and readable introduction to teaching.

Focusing on practical methods, techniques and strategies, it has been one of the best-selling books on teaching for the last 20 years. [Last checked: 30/10/20]

Race, P. (2014) Making Learning Happen: A guide for post-compulsory education (3rd ed.), Sage

This accessible discussion of post-compulsory education identifies the fundamental factors underpinning successful learning and clearly shows you how to help students learn effectively. [Last checked: 30/10/20]


Clinical Librarians and Information Skills Trainers Group (London Links)

CLIST is a group formed by NHS clinical librarians and information skills trainers working across the London region.  [Last checked: 30/10/20]

LIHNN Clinical Librarians and Trainers

The purpose of the group is to share ideas and best practice to establish common standards and a co-ordinated approach to the delivery of clinical librarianship services and the provision of LKS skills training across the North West.

Membership of the group and email list is open to all clinical librarians and LKS skills trainers employed in the North West, and any interested librarians whose role involves the delivery of clinical librarianship or training services. [Last checked: 30/10/20]

Page last reviewed: 4 August 2021