In opening any conversation on personal development it has been noticeable that the initial response has usually been based on an assumption that the topic under discussion is training. Whilst this plays an important part, personal development is a broader process, concerned with motivation, attitudes and personal qualities, as well as job-related skills. To put it simply, it is a constant process in which the individual seeks to enhance his or her knowledge, abilities and skills, and/or develop new ones; a process of continuous self-building and realisation of his or her full potential. It takes place by linking abilities with preferences to achieve personal goals, and applies to all aspects of the individual's life. For the purposes of this book it is in the context of the work situation that personal development is considered, but development of a professional nature and the resultant job satisfaction is likely to have a positive effect on life outside the work situation.
Those involved in the provision and exploitation of information require certain basic personal qualities as well as professional or technical skills and qualifications. You need only take a detailed look at current job advertisements to get some idea of what is being sought by today's employer. 'Dynamic and forward thinking', 'ability to work well under pressure', 'strong interpersonal skills', 'enthusiastic self-starter', 'good communication and team working skills', 'well developed IT skills', 'ability to teach client groups', 'project management skills', 'sense of humour'. These are all quoted from recent job columns, and describe what is required when appointing library and information staff at all levels and in various types of organisation. It is by building on such qualities that further development takes place.
The acquisition of management and communication skills can be as valuable as subject knowledge or technical ability. An information service fulfils the same basic function in all organisations, that of effectively co-ordinating, organising and using information. However, the emphasis in each is likely to be different, and so is the range of tasks or roles seen to make up an information service. It is this variety which offers possible areas and opportunities for personal development.
Who initiates this development? It does not just happen. Even if an opportunity presents itself, seemingly by chance, its full potential has to be recognised. The appropriate development then has to be thought out and,