Free or Externally Funded Professional Development for Frugal Librarians

Free or Externally Funded Professional Development for Frugal Librarians

Elizabeth Watson (Duplin County Public Library, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-7230-7.ch017
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Librarians need professional development opportunities even during difficult economic times with limited library budgets. Fortunately, creative and frugal librarians are finding external funding for professional development, and benefiting from free or low-cost professional development tools and opportunities. Many of these frugal solutions are online. Social media, bookmarking services, e-learning platforms like WebJunction and Lyrasis, listservs, and webinars are all explored as such online solutions. Conference scholarships, interdepartmental cooperation, and community partnerships are also ways to provide free or externally funded professional development.
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A review of the literature on this topic demonstrates that professional development commonly falls into two categories: conference attendance and online training. First, I looked at the literature on conference attendance for librarians. Rachel Harrison (2010) describes a survey of librarians which “found ‘professional rejuvenation’ and ‘networking’ as the top two reasons given for attending a conference” (p. 264). Additional benefits of conference identified by Harrison (2010) include “the unique value-added experience of asking questions and engaging in discussion with peers about current trends” as well as “the opportunity to discover and view demonstrations of new products and resources” (p. 265). Conferences are the most obvious example of face-to-face training. In her article, “Online Workplace Training in Libraries,” Haley (2008) discusses the pros and cons of conference attendance and other face-to-face opportunities verses online training. Haley published the results of research and surveys she conducted: “library staff preferred traditional face-to-face-training as opposed to online training…on the other hand, the majority (80 percent) preferred online training when the training was held out of state” (p. 37). My literature review indicates that librarians are using both conferences and online tools to develop themselves professionally, and the online tools continue to expand and be the trend.

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