For more than 25 years, NoveList—part of EBSCO, a leading provider of research databases, e-journal subscription management, book collection development, and acquisition management—has been at the forefront of helping library professionals to build exceptional collections and to connect readers with the right books.

NoveList’s new service, Learn with NoveList, is devoted to helping librarians and educators adapt, excel, and thrive in their roles through continuing professional development courses and resources. Via its innovative programming, the platform is designed to meet the changing needs of libraries and their communities today and well into the future.

Danielle Borasky, v-p of NoveList, spoke to PW about the vision behind Learn with NoveList and why it’s the essential platform for today’s library staff.

Describe the new Learn with NoveList platform. Who is it designed for? What makes it unique and what was the inspiration behind its development?

Learn with NoveList is a learning platform where professionals can take a variety of courses, learn from experts, and grow their skills. It’s for anyone who wants to be better at talking about books, working with readers, or telling people about the value of libraries. We know that librarians and library workers will especially find it valuable. We also hope to engage educators and other people who work with books and readers.

We were inspired to create Learn with NoveList because we heard from so many of our colleagues that they never had a chance to officially learn about readers’ advisory or library marketing before getting into their careers, yet many are asked to perform these tasks on the job. At NoveList, we knew that we had a lot of experience to share—after all, we’ve been doing this work for more than 25 years. Most of our staff also have extensive real-world experience. So, we saw an opportunity to build Learn with NoveList as a way to share what we know.

One of the things that is different about Learn with NoveList is that it makes expert-level training accessible to a wide range of professionals who may not otherwise have been able to get it. The self-paced options mean that people are able to learn at their own pace, without having to rearrange schedules. And the reasonable pricing means that more individuals can afford to take the courses and increase their professional skills.

What are some of the ways that library professionals can benefit from Learn with NoveList?

We know that library professionals are extremely skilled at adapting and learning what they need to in order to do their jobs well. We hope that we can provide some support in areas where they aren't as confident or feel like they could use extra knowledge to help in serving their communities.

Learn with NoveList specializes in education that is just right for busy professionals: convenient and available when you need it, with options to work at your own pace. Most of the courses are short and targeted, offering just the right amount of information. Plus, the content is interactive and practical, full of suggestions for how to implement what you’ve learned in a real-world setting. One of the things that our students especially love are the follow-ups afterward – we send them emails chock full of helpful reminders and checklists to help turn learning into reality.

Why does ongoing professional development matter for today’s library staff?

We’re all being asked to think differently about the work we do. Library staff in particular are under pressure partly because Covid-19 has forced them to rethink how they work as they navigate ongoing closures and reopenings. Libraries have been incredibly creative in finding solutions such as curbside service, online services, and more. And that need to creatively rethink is not going away—it will be a valuable skill for the foreseeable future.

It’s also important because libraries are at the center of some big shifts in our culture. Libraries are being asked to help people combat disinformation, help workers retool their skills for new jobs, help protect the freedom to read, and more. These are big asks and libraries need staff who are ready to support shifting culture. They are already uniquely positioned to do this kind of work. By sharing broad collections of books and encouraging people to read widely, libraries create communities of readers who have been exposed to lots of different ideas, problems, and potential solutions.

Ongoing professional development keeps staff skills sharp and relevant in order to manage these pressures and culture shifts. Learn with NoveList can help build the confidence and capacity staff need to better understand their role in connecting with readers and promoting the value of their library.

How customizable is the programming available through Learn with NoveList?

We have two kinds of courses on Learn with NoveList—live and self-paced. With the live, instructor-led courses, we have many options for customization. Right now, libraries can purchase these courses on behalf of their staff and can mix and match topics to offer a custom menu of learning options.

With the self-paced courses, each learner can choose a path that makes sense for them. Whether you’re looking to dip a toe into one short course or take a whole track of courses, we provide flexible solutions to meet that need. While currently there is only a small number of self-paced courses, we are actively working to release more in the coming months. In order to be as relevant as possible, future topics will stem from the needs we hear expressed by learners. We’re always looking for feedback on that.

Who are the instructors teaching the courses through Learn with NoveList, and how will their expertise positively impact library professionals?

Lean with NoveList instructors are experts in their field with years of experience. They know and understand the challenges faced by library staff—because they have been there themselves.

Our aim is for learners to leave the Learn with NoveList courses feeling ready to tackle their own situations with confidence. That confidence stems from knowing that they now have more awareness of solutions, as learned from instructors who deeply understand their struggles. And confidence from knowing that the strategies they learned were tested and successful in the real world.

The role of libraries within our communities continues to grow and change. In what ways is Learn with NoveList meeting the moment for library professionals? Going forward, what more can library professionals expect from the platform?

The current moment is one that unfortunately is very divisive. Around the country, people are challenging books in library collections, and libraries and library staff are at the forefront of upholding the freedom to read. By providing us with access to many perspectives and ideas, libraries help grow our ability to understand each other. What's available in the library’s collection can be like a reflection of the world, offering windows and mirrors that can open our eyes and change hearts. This is something we desperately need in our divided country right now.

One of the courses we offer on Learn with NoveList is called Include: Helping Young Readers Find Windows and Mirrors in Books. This course introduces ideas about using books to encourage exposure to many different perspectives and ideas. It’s the perfect learning opportunity for people who want to help get us on a path towards more inclusivity.

As far as what’s next for Learn with NoveList, we’re continuing to add courses in the areas of reaching readers, promoting your library, and making an impact on the community. Within each one of those tracks, we are committed to building more courses and sharing our expertise. But we also want to be responsive to the needs of our learners, so we’re also gathering feedback on the topics that matter most to them.

At NoveList, we believe deeply in the power of reading to change lives. We know we’re playing a long game—it can take decades to see the result of a life changed by books. But that possibility is what keeps us going in our quest to put the right book in the right hands, at the right time. It keeps us committed to helping libraries build communities or readers who are equipped to meet the challenges of the future.