Lifelong Learning on the Job

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A few months ago, I finished an online course on programming for children and tweens, and I  just now finished another course on readers’ advisory for children, tweens, and teens. I had to pay for these out of my own pocket; as a part-timer, I am not eligible for reimbursement at my institution. However, these courses were well worth the money I paid for each. They’ve given me new ideas and perspectives that I wouldn’t otherwise have had. This leads me to a topic that is important in any career, and that is professional development.

In a field like librarianship, where technologies and trends are constantly changing, there is no rationale for staying complacent just because you have a job. I never took a class pertaining to children’s services while in library school – I was planning on being in adult services, so although the various children’s courses sounded interesting, I ran out of time to take one. Now that I am based in children’s services, I thought it would be a good idea to gain some kind of formal knowledge in the area! Sure, I’m currently getting lots of valuable practical experience while performing my duties, but these courses can only hone my skills so that I may serve my patrons even better. Already, I’m using techniques and suggestions from these classes in my everyday interactions with children. And I have ideas floating in my head that I would eventually like to try out.

Picking up new skills and knowledge through formal coursework and webinars are not the only ways to stay informed and motivated.  I try to educate myself and stay current  by reading blogs whenever I can. A lot of times, this can be more timely than reading professional journals. I have about 15 RSS feeds on my Yahoo home page from blogs related to librarianship, the archival field, and library/digital technology.  I also follow the Twitter feeds of libraries and librarians around the country. Social media is a great way to share ideas and to stay current with library news, developments, and issues outside of my own institution.

Commitment to lifelong learning will keep the professional fires burning. The winners will be yourself and, most importantly, the community who uses your library!