Niche Academy provides library-specific learning management software that serves over 1,000 libraries worldwide with cost effective, professional and customizable training and learning tools, that empower library workers to support communities. 

Over 1500 video guides cover all major eresource platforms, digital skills, information literacy, safety and much more. Niche embeds seamlessly alongside the library site and catalogue, white-labelled so that all tutorials and content appears as the library’s own.

Librarians love Niche because it is so easy to use and configure across a wide range of applications.

Over 20 UK library authorities are now using Niche to engage users in increasingly innovative ways; to effectively train staff, and to collaborate with other local-authority services, extending the reach of libraries within their communities.

DCA introduced Niche to the UK around 5 years ago, helping libraries who faced challenges around delivering e-resource training, embedding custom video and content into the library site.

A successful Niche installation saves staff time, promotes resources to library users, and enables libraries to engage audiences and leverage the value of all their resources and programmes. Above all, Niche is a force multiplier for everyone around libraries – staff, volunteers, and users.

That’s what this award is about. We’ve seen some wonderful examples of libraries using Niche innovatively to empower library collaborations with health, education and heritage services (to name a few).

This is our first year to offer an award, recognising these outstanding achievements.

The 5 shortlisted libraries were selected by the Niche Academy head office, and are:  

Hertfordshire – highlights of their use of Niche include onboarding tutorials for their volunteer staff

Lancashire – who created a library academy, school libraries academy and a heritage learning academy in partnership with their heritage and museums service

East Sussex – who support the refugee community with essential training tutorials built within Niche

Leeds – re-branded as the Leeds Online Guides, Niche here acts as a helpdesk for the library, offering digital literacy and accessibility training. Leeds partnered with the local NHS Trust to build community health support tutorials and information ….. all delivered through Niche.

Hillingdon – who use Niche to curate a substantial and sustainable archive of their arts and crafts videos and author events material.

All of these libraries have done a fantastic job with Niche, and to find out more about how your library could use it to engage your community, click here or contact us for more information.

We are pleased to announce our two winners, who made a real difference to their community with Niche – Leeds and Lancashire libraries!

Congratulations!

With Niche Academy, libraries can create attractive, interactive elements for their customers such as quizzes, polls and writing competitions. 

One of our finalists for the Niche Award, Lancashire Libraries, found new ways to engage with their audience by using Niche’s Quiz template and creating dozens of multiple-choice book quizzes for their young readers. By doing this, they engage and encourage the next generation of library-goers.

They also encourage return visits, with recommendations for your next book or comic coming at the end of every quiz.

They also got maximum benefit from their subscription by opening a dedicated Heritage Learning academy, with tutorials about the local area including Shakespeare’s connections with Lancashire. 

In addition their Schools Library Service academy hosts the Brilliant Book Awards and other ongoing resources to support schools. While the Lancashire Staff academy not only familiarises library staff with the library’s e-resources but also provides digital skills training and stores recordings of team training sessions. Bespoke tutorials on services such as Ask a Librarian, Business and Intellectual Property network, and Adult Education courses improve staff awareness and confidence in these programmes. 

“The staff academy refreshes the library team’s knowledge of digital resources, using assignments to embed the team’s learning and has become an invaluable resource.”

– Carolyn Waite , Lancashire Libraries

Lancashire’s Academies not only successfully train and support the region’s library team, but also reach right into the community by blending with other council services.

Congratulations to Lancashire for being nominated as a finalist in the Niche Awards 2023!

With Niche Academy, your subscription is all-you-can-eat, meaning you can run multiple separate Academies for different audiences as needed. 

For example, our first Niche Award finalist, Hertfordshire Libraries, runs a separate Academy just for their volunteer staff members.

This allows them to not only keep their public-facing tutorials separate from their staff- or volunteer-facing ones, but also allows them to assign specific tutorials to specific volunteers – and check that they’re actually doing them!

Using a mixture of public and custom-created tutorials, Hertfordshire have created an ordered pathway for each new volunteer at the library to step through. This instructs them in everything they need to know to help customers out – whether it’s how to use some of the eResources the library has, or even how to use the till at the front desk. Volunteers can progress through the tutorials on their own time, only asking for help when it’s needed, freeing up time for their instructors too.

On the back end, Instructors and Supervisors at Hertfordshire can assign specific tutorials to new volunteers, track their progress, and even see any quiz results they get – allowing them to make sure the volunteers are fully understanding the information they’ve been given.

Of course, once created, these tutorials also serve as a handy way for volunteers to double-check a process if they forget, meaning that alongside training, Hertfordshire have also created a powerful reference tool.

“Hertfordshire Libraries starting using Niche Learning Academy early in 2021, as a learning platform for the 300+ volunteers who support us with providing a library service in our 13 community libraries.  As these libraries had been closed for over a year due to the Covid pandemic and we could no longer offer in person training, it was a vital aid in helping us to refresh their knowledge and increase their confidence as part of our service recovery and restoring library opening hours.  We found the tutorials provided by the Academy very useful when creating our own training, and soon learnt how to upload custom made tutorials of our own following the guidance.  The feedback from our volunteers was very positive; they all found the access very straightforward and the tutorials relevant and informative.  Giving our volunteers access to Niche certainly resulted in us having a very smooth transition back to volunteering, and is continuing to be a valuable training tool with new volunteers too.”

Imelda Jackson, Community Services Librarian at Hertfordshire.

Hertfordshire’s Volunteer Academy is a seamless combination of pre-existing and custom-created tutorials, and functions as a full learning management system to ensure all volunteers are fully trained and supported in their work. Congratulations to Hertfordshire for a well-deserved spot on our Niche Awards shortlist!

Why?

Every day, public libraries are proving and improving their ability to engage and serve communities, adding value and delivering successful social outcomes. Niche Academy provides over 1,000 libraries worldwide with cost effective training and learning tools that empower library workers to support community engagement. 

What?

DCA and Niche Academy are excited to announce the launch of the “Niche Academy Award for Excellence in Community Engagement” – our way of recognising those library authorities working with Niche, who go above and beyond for their communities. 

Who?

Each of our five shortlisted libraries uses Niche Academy in innovative and unique ways, and over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing their stories. Niche is a powerful and flexible tool, and we’re excited to tell you all about the libraries who use it to its fullest – from creating exciting content in collaboration with other community services, to efficient and sustainable onboarding of new staff and volunteers.

Our five finalists are:

The winners will be announced at the EDGE Conference dinner on March 2nd in Edinburgh. Join us there, where DCA will be presenting the award in person, on behalf of Niche Academy.

Niche Academy helps you create elegant online tutorial experiences, making things easier for both instructors and learners.

Engaging users and supporting children’s learning

Lancashire library needed to reach users during lockdowns; they created custom quizzes which were a huge hit with both children and adults, driving users to interact with the library’s other resources.

The library used Niche to create a suite of homeschooling resources, storytimes and support material for their digital inclusion project.  

“Our public academy has been invaluable for our Library at Home service.”

Training staff and volunteers

Hertfordshire Libraries’ Community Services team were able to employ their Niche Academy to make training and information for volunteers returning to community libraries more accessible and streamlined, at a challenging time when staff couldn’t do face to face training. 

“Niche saved the day and definitely helped to speed up the process of re-opening our volunteer libraries this year. I genuinely don’t know how we would have managed without it.”

Niche offers libraries multiple academies to serve different user groups, which both Lancashire and Hertfordshire took advantage of with academies for staff, public, students, volunteers, local authority teams and more.  

Improving discovery and loans

Niche Academy provides several different ways of connecting library users to e-resources and their tutorials. Westminster opted for an eye-catching carousel on their homepage, showing users the wide range of e-resources and tutorials available to them.

If you want to learn more about how Niche can support your library’s success, get in touch for a free trial.

DCA

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