Welcome to the fifth thing in 12 Things SWKLS 2019. This month we’re going to be learning about the Niche Academy available through the State Library of Kansas.

In this lesson you will:

  • Identify what Niche Academy is why it’s applicable to you
  • Locate where to find Niche Academy on the State Library Website
  • Practice using Niche Academy
  • Establish ways Niche Academy can help you, your staff members, and your patrons

In addition to providing statewide databases, eBooks, and audiobooks, the State Library also gives you the tools to teach your patrons to use these resources! Niche Academy is a collection of tutorials that’s available from any page on the state library’s website via the blue Tutorials tab on the right-hand side of the page.

Niche Academy includes video and text introductions and instructions for using many of our database products and eBook and audiobook platforms. You can use these tutorials to brush up on these resources yourself or point patrons toward them when they need a little help delving into a resource that they haven’t used before. We regularly add new tutorials and would welcome feedback and requests for additional tutorials. The State Library can also provide you with direct links to individual tutorials to put on your library’s website. Just ask Andy from the State Library. If you need his contact information, contact Janelle.

In addition to those patron-focused tutorials, the State Library of Kansas also has an entire academy dedicated to librarians. You can find it by clicking on the LIBRARIANS tab on our website, going to the Professional Resources section of that page and clicking Niche Academy Tutorials. These tutorials are much more geared toward issues facing librarians. As with the patron-facing academy, the State Library of Kansas welcomes your feedback regarding what kind of content you’d like to see more of. Just like with the patron-facing tutorials, the State Library can give you direct links to embed these tutorials in your own library’s website as well.

Direct links to academies:


Above content taken from: SLK Resource Spotlight: Niche Academy email from Andy Schafer (State Library of Kansas), August 27, 2019.

Exercises:  (Due September 30, 2019 at 11:59 pm CDT)

  • A computer with a browser.
    • A tablet or other internet enabled device will also work for most of these activities.
  • An Internet connection.

Activity 1:

  1. Go to
  2. Click on the Librarians tab.
  3. This should take you to a page that looks like the one below.
  4. Click on Niche Academy Tutorials under Professional Resources.
  5. Complete one of the library staff tutorials.

Activity 2:

  1. Go to
  2. Find the Patron Tutorials by clicking on the Blue Tutorial Button.
  3. Complete one of the patron tutorials.
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Activity 3: Wrap-up

  1. Post a comment below answering the following:
    1. What tutorials did you complete?
    2. What did you learn?
    3. What did you like and not like about these tutorials?
    4. How do you see this helping you, your coworkers, and your patrons in the future?
  2. Reply to at least one other person’s comment below.
  3. Register for 12/2 Thing 5.

29 thoughts on “12/2 Things SWKLS 2019: Thing 5

  • September 3, 2019 at 4:31 pm

    This is great! I had no idea!!!
    1. How to handle angry customers
    2. It just so happens that today was a good day for this video no so much in an angry customer but 2 naughty girls with whom we are going to have to talk to their parents about their behavior and actions in the Library. The dealing with and the “customer is NOT always right” along with “do I need to keep this patron” are going to be very helpful here in about 45 minutes!!!
    3. I liked the tutorial and that you could listen or read it! It wasn’t all that long or time consuming.
    4. This one is GOLD! I’m sure there are others that will be as good. This one is one that all our staff needs to view. I shared it with our director so she could view it before the meeting as well.
    1. Novelist
    2. I did not know that they were two versions. I like that there is just a K-8 one!
    3. The tutortial was very helpful in how to use Novelist.
    4. It will be a good resource for all staff to know how to use.

    • September 9, 2019 at 6:46 pm

      I think this is the next tutorial I will take. So glad the timing was perfect for you, Millie. We have had angry patrons come in before, this would be great for everyone on staff to watch. In this day and age you just never know what will set someone off. Hope everything worked out well for you. This is going to be a must see for all my girls!

    • September 12, 2019 at 4:52 pm

      I watched How to handle angry customers too! seems like I just moved from one to the next. I hope to have all staff watch that one. Would have been nice to have seen months ago before I had to deal with an angry customer.

    • September 17, 2019 at 10:22 am

      I’m looking forward to watching both of these, Millie!

    • September 30, 2019 at 4:44 pm

      We don’t have many problems with angry patrons, but there are those that make me want to run in the back and hide so this sounds like a good one to watch.

    • September 30, 2019 at 5:56 pm

      I didn’t know there was a K-8 version of Novelist. That will be my next tutorial!

  • September 9, 2019 at 6:42 pm

    1. Making Employee Training Stick and Tutorial on Mango Languages
    2. What I learned about the training is as a supervisor I need to make sure that employees go to training’s that will help with their jobs and I need to listen to their ideas and help implement new ideas that will make their jobs better and our library to run smoother. We also need refreshers once in a while, we can use hand outs , or zoom, or even talking to the presenter, to run ideas past them. Mango is a wonderful data base for anyone to use. it has over 70 languages to learn. I really like having the choices and it is very user friendly.
    3. I liked them both because of the ease in which to use them. I really liked have the choice of listening or reading the Niche Academy tutorials, and there was also a lot of great choices. And handout were available. I just liked the Mango because it was easy to sign up for and use. Really didn’t have any dislikes.
    4. The employee training will be great because we can have it right now,and go over our training and talk about how to implement it in our library, we can try new things and if they don’t work we can change it up and try again. Knowledge is power, we all want to make our work place the best that it can be and be the best employees we can. this will be watched many times again I’m sure by me and coworkers so we can make a great library experience for our patrons. I also was impressed with the Niche
    Academy because it had so many great subjects to help us.

  • September 10, 2019 at 2:39 pm

    I loved these tutorials!
    1 Good Reads, How To Handle Angry Customers, Booklix (will be watching more though).
    2 Good Reads has been my go to, to find if a book is part of a series or not but never thought to make an account and let them recommend books.
    3 Information was straight forward and easy to understand.
    4 I can see Good Reads as a great resource for patrons to have to keep track of the books they’ve read but also to receive recommendations on what to read next based on their “likes” on a book. Bookflix would be really helpful with parents teaching their kids the basics before they go to school.

    • September 17, 2019 at 10:28 am

      I also use GoodReads on a daily basis and loved its tutorial as well! I have seen several people watched the How to Handle Angry Customers, so that is on my list of things to do!

  • September 12, 2019 at 4:48 pm

    1. Customer Service Strategies, followed by Customer Service 101, and How to Handle Angry Customers; on patron side I did Universal Class.
    2. The first two were refreshers on other things I have done, but there was some good new info in both. I wish I could be cool and calm when dealing with an angry person. My nerves immediately kick in and cool and calm is hard to get back to. The Universal Class was easy, but I was amazed at the number of classes available! I’ll definitely be looking in there some more.
    3. I much preferred the videos to just page after page of written words. I felt more engaged with the speaker than the text.
    4. I need to show some of these to staff during a meeting or at least have them look at them individually. We can all benefit from new info or a refresher on what we know. The patron side I’m thinking of offering mini classes on some topics or a ‘come and see what you can do’ class to have patrons explore the tutorials so they can get a card if they don’t have one so they can take a class on their own, access online books, learn a language…

  • September 17, 2019 at 10:21 am

    I watched the Librarian tutorial on Ancestry Library and found it very enlightening. I learned some new search strategies that I hadn’t known before – but when I went to the link, it asked that I login. I didn’t see any instructions about that part…I may have missed it.

    I watched the Patron tutorial on Heritage Quest and I think it would be very helpful for patrons.

    • November 22, 2019 at 5:51 pm

      I am excited to take the Ancestry Library tutorial so I can learn how to better utilize the site and share it with our patrons.

  • September 17, 2019 at 10:25 am

    1. GoodReads & RBDigital
    2. I learned in GoodReads you can create all different kinds of list, such as books you want to read, favorite authors & books, etc. In RBDigital I learned that you could actually use your computer to listen to books as well. I have always listened to them within the app either on my phone or ipad.
    3. I really liked the GoodReads because it will all done with videos that walked you step by step through the site. I am very much a visual learner so that was great for me.
    4. This will help me in the future because it gave me a better understanding of each site. I now know much more about each site so I can better explain how to use them to my patrons and staff members.

    • September 17, 2019 at 10:30 am

      I love GoodReads, but I don’t know I don’t use it to the full extent. I will have to check out that tutorial. Thank you. I didn’t see it on the list earlier!

      • September 18, 2019 at 3:34 pm

        I like GoodReads, we refer to it often especially when looking for series in order.

        • September 20, 2019 at 1:17 pm

          I am just learning about GoodReads. Thanks for the heads up on using it for series order!

          • September 25, 2019 at 5:00 pm

            I watched Customer Service 101 and Good Reads on the Librarian side and I watched Heritage Quest on the patron tutorial.

            From customer Service 101 I learned about the 3 P’s: polite, professional and prompt. Something we try to do here at our library. They really stressed the importance of making them feel welcome and the importance of listening without interruption. They also touched on dealing with angry customers. They had a list of 6 things to do when you are dealing with an angry customer. I liked #1 Stay Calm-which is hard to do sometime and #6 Find a Solution which I think you can find a win win situation for everyone. I am excited about building a book club recommendation list from Good Reads as no one likes to pick out the books. I have patrons that have built a list on Good Reads for recommendations and they come to look for books off the list.

            I was glad I watched the tutorial for Heritage Quest as it has been along time since I have used it and I was happy to see how easy it is to get the information for yourself. It use to be, printing any information was a nightmare but now it looks fairly simple.

            Good information on them plus the ease of using it. I liked it how they were broken up into parts so if needed you could review a certain part without listening to the whole thing.
            They could be watched either individually or at a meeting. Being able to view them on your own time is valuable.

          • December 1, 2019 at 9:39 pm

            GoodReads seems is a handy & reliable resource for series and reviews.

        • September 25, 2019 at 5:01 pm

          I am really going to experiment with the series segment.

    • September 20, 2019 at 1:16 pm

      I am trying to learn more and more about the state library webpage and this topic was just what I needed. I work in a public library but we are also connected to our school. I watched Research Essentials: Better Search Techniques so that I am better prepared to help the students with their research work. It was very helpful since I had all the high school English classes come in to research careers, which I also found a link on the state library page to help!

      I also watched the Digitizing VHS and Videocassettes which helped me understand this better. I have a patron who wants to digitize all the old programs from the school over the years.

      I plan to watch more videos to gain more understanding on all the topics!
      Thank you so much!

      • September 26, 2019 at 2:09 pm

        I think the Research Essentials tutorial will be next on my list! I work in an academic library and this sounds like it would be a perfect tutorial for me to check out! 🙂

      • December 1, 2019 at 9:36 pm

        What tutorials did you complete? I reviewed 2 info articles on each; Digitizing VHS and Video Cassettes & Ancestry Library Edition; The Mailbox School & District and Heritage Quest – a Collection of Genealogical and Historical Resources
        What did you learn? I learned I want to spend a lot more time reviewing the available articles & will make time to do so; I have wanted to look at the genealogical resources for quite some time.
        What did you like and not like about these tutorials? Honestly, I disliked some of the voiceovers – they would be more appealing if less robotic or monotone; I liked the variety of categories. I picked 2 articles that could only be fully explored in the library.
        How do you see this helping you, your coworkers, and your patrons in the future? I really want to research the veteran’s military records, family tree & census records to be better informed for future projects.
        Reply to at least one other person’s comment below.
        Register for 12/2 Thing 5.

    • September 30, 2019 at 11:15 pm

      Watched how to deal with an angry patron, picked up several cool, calm, and collective tips for if we ever have an incident. Learned we might need to have some incident forms on hand. Something I’ll be encouraging my staff to watch as well.
      Freading is an interesting database i will be further encouraging our patrons to use.

      Prefer the videos over endless pages of text to read!

    • September 30, 2019 at 11:17 pm

      Sounds like the Goodreads tutorial is another good one to watch/take!

  • September 18, 2019 at 3:31 pm

    I watched the Customer Service 101. I liked the Ted Talk with the man who talked about having a welcoming attitude. I agreed with his view about having a good attitude and treating each patron as a guest. I tried to watch the next segment with listening as the main subject, but I couldn’t hear it very well, and my audio was all the way up. The length of the videos was short, but effective. I will recommend them to my staff.

  • September 26, 2019 at 2:06 pm

    1. I watched Making Employee Training Stick and on the patron side, Cloud Library – ebooks.

    2. I learned that pre-training – assessing needs and preparing materials – is even more important than what happens after training. I also learned the importance of setting objectives and following up with the employee about what they learned and how they plan to apply it on the job. On the patron side, I learned the various tools that can be used to access cloud library and how to utilize it on each platform. This tutorial will be very handy to share with patrons!

    3. I liked that both of these tutorials were very informative and thorough. I enjoyed the visuals. I didn’t like that the training one was, I felt, a little too long in places and needs more visual material to break it up a bit.

    4. I think this information will be invaluable to all of us here at my library. We are all responsible, in different ways, for training student library aides and I think the tools that I learned, here, are ones that I can definitely apply and pass on and we will all reap the benefits of that. The Cloud tutorial is a great resource for patrons that I was not aware existed and I’m excited to share it with them.

  • September 30, 2019 at 4:40 pm

    1. I watched Microsoft Office- Excel and Freading- ebooks
    2. Excel: I learned how to transfer data into charts quickly and efficiently. Freading: I learned that there is no waiting period, you can download and begin reading immediately
    3. Both tutorials were easy to follow along with and I liked that they have videos to watch rather than just having a whole glob of info. On the Excel tutorial they had “Try It Activities” which were great but they seemed to have instructions for things they hadn’t shown/taught in the lessons yet.
    4. My coworker and I have been discussing taking an Excel class but this tutorial covered most of what i was wanting to learn how to do, I will definitely be recommending this to her. Several patrons have asked me about ebooks lately I will be adding Freading to my list of recommended apps.

  • September 30, 2019 at 5:55 pm

    After seeing comments on the tutorial on dealing with angry customers, I decided to check that one out. I found it interesting & will probably rewatch it when I have time. On the patron side, I watched the tutorial on Bloom’s Literature. I’m going to recommend it to the high school English teacher.
    I like that at least some of these tutorials are brief and to the point. I hadn’t taken time to go through them before. This makes me want to view more of them as I have time.

  • November 22, 2019 at 5:49 pm

    1. I did a tutorial on Library customer service and the Cloud library tutorial.
    2. I found the tutorial for customer service was very helpful with terminology to use and how to diffuse a possible escalating situation. The patron tutorial was short and to the point.
    3. I am very impressed with the information included in the librarian tutorial and saw many more that I am interested in using. I wasn’t aware of the Patron tutorials and I think it will be helpful in the future with explaining things to our patrons starting out.
    4. I think it is a great way for us to continue to learn how to do our job more efficiently and hopefully I will continue to utilize these resources.


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