Exploring Future Training Pathways: Insights from Our Members


The Massachusetts Library System (MLS) recently conducted a comprehensive Training Needs Assessment with the assistance of Dr. Audrey Barbakoff of Co/Lab Capacity, an external consulting firm. This initiative aimed to gather insights from our members about their goals and how MLS can best support these ambitions through targeted training and development opportunities. 

In late 2023, we embarked on this assessment to inform a strategy for providing relevant and impactful training to our members in the coming years. The assessment involved an online survey conducted from November 30 to December 28, 2023, which received 600 responses, and four virtual focus groups held in February 2024. This combined approach allowed us to gather a broad spectrum of insights from a diverse group of library staff. 

From the data collected, several key themes emerged. Many of our members expressed a strong desire to advance within their field, taking on leadership roles and achieving significant career milestones. Additionally, there was a clear interest in developing skills related to management, collection management, programming, and outreach. Our members also indicated a preference for flexible training options, including virtual and on-demand formats. 

Based on the recommendations from member input, we are exploring new directions as we implement Strategic Initiative 1, Goal 3 of the MLS Fiscal Year 2025 Action Plan. One area we are considering is the creation of structured learning pathways tailored to different career stages and goals. This approach aims to help members acquire the necessary skills and knowledge at various points in their career journeys, addressing the specific needs of new library staff, emerging managers, and experienced library staff. 

At MLS, we are committed to supporting the professional development of our members through high-quality, engaging training experiences. We are excited to explore these new initiatives and continue fostering a vibrant and well-supported library community across Massachusetts. 

We extend our gratitude to all our members who participated in the Training Needs Assessment. Your insights are invaluable as we shape the future of MLS training programs. We look forward to continuing this journey together. 

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Blog coordinated by:

Sarah Donnelly, Event & Project Manager

Jack Martin, Communications Manager

Terry McQuown, Consulting & Training Services Director

Hillary Washburn, Instructional Designer and LMS Administrator