Library Associations, Conferences, and Professional Development

Library Associations, Conferences, and Professional Development

Samantha Schmehl Hines (University of Montana-Missoula College, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4675-9.ch017
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Abstract

What role do conferences play in the professional development offerings of associations? This chapter examines the role of library associations generally in librarian professional development, then focuses on the conference as the key outlet of professional development for the library association. Benefits of conference attendance as discussed in the scholarly literature of librarianship are presented. Current leaders of library associations are surveyed to determine the relevance and sustainability of conferences for library associations, and future trends are addressed along with recommendations for associations offering conferences.
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Background

The role of the library association in the library profession has been examined with some regularity. Library Trends devoted a special issue to the subject in 1997. The introduction to that issue offers a good overview of what is meant by library association: a volunteer organization, drawing from a pool of experienced professionals, with collective funds to address issues of importance and interest, and an interest in standards for members of the profession, including professional development (Thomas, 1997, p. 230). The special issue goes on to address how library associations lead to the “establishment of a unified culture for the profession, the institutionalization of professional codes of contact, establishment of educational and performance standards, and the diffusion and incorporation of change and innovation within the profession” (Hovecamp, 1997, p. 234). Some associations have been more overt about the establishment of culture in librarianship. For example, the American Library Association takes an active role in accrediting library schools in the United States and Canada. Other actions can be a bit more subtle—awards recognizing professionals, selection of keynote and other conference speakers, committee charges, and so on can all speak to what is valued and supported in the profession by a particular association.

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