Benefits of Internal Professional Development for Academic Librarians

Benefits of Internal Professional Development for Academic Librarians

Carissa Tomlinson (Towson University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5780-9.ch088
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While often overlooked, there are many benefits of in-house professional development programs for academic librarians. This is especially true as the roles of academic librarians continue to evolve and change. This chapter argues that internal professional development not only helps academic librarians share their varied skills, tools, and practices with institutional colleagues, but also improves employee morale, collegiality, and organizational culture. Additionally, by structuring an internal professional development program using a peer-learning model, librarians gain a sense of community while seeing value in each librarian's individual knowledge. Also, peer learning can be a mechanism for institutional knowledge management and the transfer of institutional memory through intergenerational and cross job function learning. In addition to exploring the evolving nature of the academic librarian and the importance of professional development as peer learning in the context of the local institution, this chapter will describe in detail one university library's internal professional development program for librarians.
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Many academic librarians have unique positions compared to typical academic staff. Often we have faculty status with some sort of tenure process. As faculty, especially when in a tenure track, we are expected to stay professionally active. An ongoing commitment to development generally is in our nature as well as in our position descriptions. We do not simply have jobs, we have professions and wish to continually learn and grow within our professions and organizations. Because of this, academic librarians do not usually need much incentive to seek out professional opportunities. However, much of the focus tends to be within our professional organizations and other external means to learn and grow. These methods are not to be discredited. Many of the ideas we can teach each other in-house are ideas that we have learned outside of our own walls. Innovative ideas coming from different organizations with different cultures are extremely important to spark change. Internal professional development does not replace external development; instead they should be seen as complementary activities. External professional development is very important even in financially difficult times. On the same note, internal professional development is equally as important even in financially prosperous times. However, it seems that little attention is paid to the importance and significance of internal professional development except, perhaps, in terms of financial savings.

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