The COVID-19 pandemic changed many aspects of our lives, but one thing that hasn’t changed is MLS’s commitment to providing outstanding trainings for our members.  We wanted to briefly highlight how we have transitioned our trainings to meet the changing nature of library work during the pandemic.

Because of the pandemic, MLS suspended in-person training on March 13, 2020.  This meant that most of our Spring 2020 trainings had to be cancelled.  However, to ensure that library staff had the chance to continue learning during the pandemic, our Consultants quickly moved some of their trainings online:

  • Converting Spring 2020 Training: The Consultants converted content from a number of their Spring 2020 in-person classes into an online format, including trainings on time management, weeding, creating visual content using Canva, developing surveys, and connected learning.
  • Offering COVID-19 Related Trainings: The Consultants offered a number of trainings that were specifically intended to address issues raised by the pandemic, including self-care, streaming story-times, summer planning, storytelling for a virtual summer, and hosting online games.
  • Providing Other Training Opportunities: The Consultants also scheduled several non-COVID-19 related trainings, to ensure that library workers had the knowledge and skills necessary to meet the needs of their patrons now and into the future, including trainings on middle school services, early literacy, world language collections, multilingual storytimes, and Project Ready.

In addition, we heard from library workers that they wanted a way to get together virtually, to build community, and to share ideas on how to better serve their communities.  In response, the Consultants began holding virtual “check-ins” on a number of topics where library workers could do just that.

Compared to the same time the previous year, MLS increased the number of live learning opportunities and more than quadrupled the number of attendees at these trainings between March and June:

3/1/2020 – 6/30/2020 3/1/2019 – 6/30/2020
Sessions Attendees Session Attendees
In-Person Trainings 1 10 58 858
Webinars 21 2,742 8 254
eClasses 16 331 0 0
Virtual Check-Ins 35 1,650 0 0
Totals 73 4,733 66 1,112


In addition to live online trainings, MLS provided library workers with a variety of “anytime” online learning opportunities, such as LibGuides on various topics (including the popular Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Massachusetts Libraries LibGuide), videos on teleworking tips, and hundreds of recorded webinars on our Vimeo page.  During the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of these online learning resources saw a dramatic increase in use from the same time the previous year:

3/1/2020 – 6/30/2020 3/1/2019 – 6/30/2020
Views Finishes Views Finishes
Recorded Webinars & Videos 17,411 4,160 1,750 229
LibGuides 119,524 N/A 24,982 N/A


The continuing COVID-19 pandemic prevented us from resuming in-person trainings in Fall 2020.  So, we made a couple of changes to our typical training season.  First, we decided to continue offering all of our trainings online.  And second, we experimented with different ways to offer trainings.  We still offered webinars, classes, and virtual check-ins, but we added blended learning, cohorts, and a few series:

  • Blended Learning: These are trainings that include asynchronous (“anytime”) content and a live component. Our consultants created blended learnings on communication tools and employee communication.  In both instances, the asynchronous content included LibGuides and videos, and there was an optional live session to learn additional information and discuss questions.
  • Cohorts: In partnership with MLBC, MLS offered a 5-week class on Transforming Teen Services, to help library workers create meaningful teen programs and services. Participants read articles, did activities, and watched videos each week, and came together online on Friday to discuss.
  • Conferences: With in-person conferences not possible this year, our Consultants moved their events online, using Crowdcast, an online platform for hosting interactive live events. Teen Summit was held in October (in collaboration with the RI Office of Library & Information Services) and the Small Library Forum was held in November (in collaboration with MBLC).
  • Discussions: Our Consultants have rebooted the Mock Book Awards program, this year doing it entirely online, and they have a group on Goodreads. Book discussions happen in October and December, with an online book selection and celebration event to be held in January 2021.
  • E-Classes: We offered two eClasses: The first was designed to help libraries make their marketing more efficient, and offered an optional one-on-one consultation to develop a communication plan. The second was designed to help libraries improve their policies, procedures, and guidelines, and offered an optional work session to develop or revise a policy.
  • Series: Our Consultants offered three series, which included a variety of different types of learning opportunities centered around a theme. One series focused on Civic Engagement and included webinars, an interactive eClass, and a LibGuide.  Another series was a Spotlight on Literature and included webinars, discussions, videos, and a LibGuide.  Coming up, we will be celebrating Career Resource Week (December 7th – 11th), where we will host a number of webinars and an eClass on career resources that library workers can use to help their patrons.
  • Webinars: Our Consultants offered webinars on various topics, including many offered in partnership with other organizations, including the Boston Public Library (What Can BPL Do for You?), Nonprofit Vote (Libraries Promoting Voter Engagement), Communities Responding to Extreme Weather (Climate Resilience), and Digital Commonwealth (Introduction to Omeka).
  • Virtual Check-Ins: We held virtual check-ins on a variety of topics, including youth services, reference and user services, marketing, small libraries, and health services and special libraries.

Our virtual trainings continue to be extremely popular.  In October alone, we hosted 19 different types of trainings, with almost 1,100 participants:


October 2020 Learning Opportunities
Type Number Attendees
Cohorts 1 23
Conferences 1 286
Discussions 1 7
eClasses 8 189
Virtual Check-Ins 4 84
Webinars 4 507
Totals 19 1096


We are currently in the process of wrapping up our Fall 2020 training season and are planning for Spring 2021.  We hope that you find our trainings helpful.  If you have any questions or feedback, please do not hesitate to reach out to our Consultants.  We hope to “see” you at one of our upcoming MLS trainings!