Week 8: Professional Conferences
This week we’re addressing two topics that at first seem unrelated: budgets and professional conferences. Dr. Currier’s lecture addresses both topics, while Dr. Alman’s recorded lecture addresses budgets. And, of course, your assigned readings for this week focus primarily on budgets. So, in order to balance out this week’s materials, this week’s blog discussion will focus on professional development.
Professional development, as I mentioned in an earlier blog post, is a vital component of an librarian’s career, whether or not you’re in management. In fact, it is usually a line item in library budgets (I guess we’re still talking about budgets after all!). Unfortunately, despite the importance of developing and enhancing your knowledge, skills, and abilities, professional development money often is one of the first things that get cut in tight budget times. A few years ago at Indiana University, the university cut travel funding in half, transforming my already meager travel fund into something even tinier. I had to be creative about seeking ways to fund my professional development endeavors. Fortunately, my director is very supportive, and he was able to find other ways of helping to fund my trips. I also applied for campus grants from various faculty committees, which helped as well. This made it possible for me to go to both LOEX and ACRL Immersion last year.
As an early career librarian, it is important to demonstrate a commitment to professional development and service as you navigate your career. Join a professional association now, if you can, to take advantage of the student rates. Join ALA, and join the appropriate divisions for your areas of interest (ACRL for academic librarians, PLA for public libraries, etc.). Once you join ALA and the appropriate division, and any other sections or round tables that interest you, you will start receiving the publications of those various groups you belong to, which you should definitely read and keep up with. On the job market, this is how you demonstrate familiarity with the major trends and conversations circulating in the profession.
In an American Libraries article from March 2010, Catherine Hakala-Ausperk describes a structure librarians can use to plan out professional growth goals. While the purpose of the article does seem, in part, geared toward promoting her book Be a Great Boss, does her advice still hold relevance for you as an LIS student? Why or why not? Do you agree with this statement below?
An investment in yourself to always keep learning and growing will pay off again and again, with benefits affecting your coworkers, your staff, your customers, your library, and, ultimately, your career. Especially in these changing and challenging times, we can’t be too busy to get better.
In your comments, write about your reaction to Ms. Hakala-Ausperk’s advice about investing in career development and growth and how it may or may not be relevant to you as you embark on your library career. Please also describe what your career goals are at this point, no matter how nebulous and fuzzy they might be, and try to imagine yourself five years from now and what you might be doing. One way to approach this is to think of professional librarians you admire and whom you’d like to emulate. What do you need to do in order to be like that person five years from now? Explore this in the comments!