I’m a HUGE advocate of professional development (PD). I’m not sure if it is my fear of not having the resume to get the job I want or the fact that I can get bored easily and am always on the lookout for new things. Either way, I sometimes wonder if it is possible to fall into PD overload.
I realized not long ago that except for an 18 month period during my first year and half of teaching, I have been in some type of formal education program. I went straight to graduate school from undergrad. After a brief break, I started working on an associate’s in accounting. I thought this would be a good idea since understanding finances would be helpful if I ever ran a large library and I could pick up a business education certification. I abandoned that program when I began to question how much I would remember down the line. I also decided that a doctorate would be more beneficial in the long run and I wanted to get it done while I was still young, carefree, and single. I’m currently developing the research prospectus for my dissertatation and am beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. In between all this I also worked part-time at Huntington Learning Center, coached three seasons each of junior high girls basketball and junior varsity softball, and began teaching as an adjunct instructor.
I also try to attend any workshop or conference that I believe will be beneficial. I have served in a leadership capacity for several local and state organizations and have found such involvement to be a great way to make connections with other library professionals. This can be difficult for librarians who are isolated in their buildings. I have been to the state conference (PSLA) almost every year since I started college and was able to attend PETE&C once. I hope to get to AASL (why is this during the school year??) and ALA sometime in the near future.
Social networking tools are also helpful to stay connected and learn new things. I have a separate email account for all of the list servs I belong to. Last week was crazy in the library (in a good way) and I hadn’t had a chance to go through all of the emails. The inbox had almost 1500 unread emails this morning. As I sort through them, deleting most and saving information from others, I began to wonder if there is too much out there to keep up with. I tend to save a lot of links and information “just in case”. A good thing or time waster? Twitter is a great tool, but how many people can you truly follow? I have many lists that I break my “following” list into, but it is still overwhelming at times. (And frustrating when an abbreviated link is blocked by the school filter and I know I either won’t remember to check at home or won’t be able to find it.)
The thing about quality professional development is that you have to initiate it yourself. I suppose that is part of being a professional, too. I don’t understand those who say they are too busy to do it-any of it. We are all busy, but we have to do what we can, not drive ourselves crazy by trying to do too much or belittling ourselves for doing too little. You can’t read every Tweet, article and email, but something is better than nothing. It is critical now for librarians to stay on the cutting edge through PD opportunities, large or small, formal or informal.