Professional Development and Continuing Education

By Keiser, Barbie E. | Online, May-June 2012 | Go to article overview

Professional Development and Continuing Education


Keiser, Barbie E., Online


Professional development remains a key priority for information professionals. However, obtaining continuing education is increasingly a personal responsibility, unsupported by employers. Vendors offer some free services to help customers learn about and effectively use their products. Many also provide more generalized professional development programs. These are, by no means, the only resources that librarians and information professionals tap to keep up with advances in their own field.

While librarians read journals related to their work (subscribing to ONLINE, for example), they also take advantage of the web and the plethora of resources available in multimedia format, such as videos and presentations available at SlideShare, Inc. (www.slideshare.net). For example, I learned how to exploit Netvibes (www.netvibes.com) in a PowerPoint presentation by someone who ended with a screen shot of the start page of the Shrewsbury and Telford (U.K.) health libraries.

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LEARN DIFFERENTLY

Everyone learns differently. I find podcasts and webinars to be particularly helpful. I like being able to multitask and often time-shift, listening when I can rather than when meetings are held or sessions are conducted.

I could probably attend one web-based event a day--and I often find myself conflicted with two events held at the same hour. I've learned to ask which will be archived on the web for access by those who register, so even if I'm not sure that I will be able to attend an event, I register with the intent of listening or viewing it at a later date. I confess that does not always occur. (My apologies to web conference organizers for any difficulties that this may cause.)

In general, I have two categories of interests, very loosely based on work-related issues. They deal with library management, including the business skills required to run libraries, such as marketing via social networks, and information management (including website development and search optimization).

The second category can be considered part of "lifelong learning," an extension of my general interests in the world and my more formal liberal arts education. I look for organizations that offer high-quality series of webinars and podcasts, and I cast my net widely. The approach(es) I employ to keep abreast of learning opportunities, whether they are specific skill training or more generally educational, may be of help to readers of this column in developing personal information literacy and lifelong learning efforts of their own.

SOCIAL NETWORKING

Social networking has proved a great boon to broadening my learning experiences. Individuals and organizations I follow on Twitter, as well as LinkedIn groups to which I belong, have helped expand the sources of my learning, as well as deepen it within a particular topic. I have TweetDeck set to track several topics that tend to shift as projects are completed and new ones take their place. At the moment, I'm tracking Knowledge Management (KM), Competitive Intelligence (CI), Urban Agriculture, and Thalassemia. I track these topics using other tools, but I continue to be amazed at the number of webinars and podcasts--not to mention articles and white papers--that I would not know about if not for using Twitter. (I'll acknowledge that not all are of high quality, but I can screen through the suggestions pretty quickly each morning.)

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I am a bit more conflicted about the LinkedIn groups I belong to. Many of the Special Libraries Association (SLA) and American Library Association (ALA) units and special interest groups have shifted from discussion lists to their own LinkedIn groups. I question the value of networking among a group of individuals to which I already have access in other ways, although I recognize that some may prefer one vehicle over another for communication. …

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