Professional Development Opportunities Provided by Consortia: What We Can Learn from this Model

Professional Development Opportunities Provided by Consortia: What We Can Learn from this Model

Tami Echavarria Robinson (Whitworth University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4675-9.ch014
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Abstract

Continuing education for librarians and library staff is a need all libraries must consider for the effective professional development of their human resources and the functioning of their libraries. Similar concerns regarding the needs and barriers to obtaining ongoing continuing education are found across different types of libraries and in different regions of the country. Although studied separately and in different regions of the country, among concerns of library school media specialists documented in studies, results are similar to those revealed in a survey of Inland Northwest Library Council (INCOL) librarians in public, academic, and special libraries. Consortia offering continuing education are not well documented in the literature, but examples that exist reveal a feasible, collaborative, effective resource as a means to provide for these needs in member libraries. The history of these consortia is not only important as a means of documentation of their existence, but more so of their value and usefulness proven over a long time period. INCOL, in the Inland Northwest region of the Pacific Northwest of the United States, is a model of such a consortium that continues to be relevant after more than 30 years of offering ongoing continuing education to its constituency.
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Literature Review

Bruce E. Massis encourages “organizations recognizing the inherent and long-term benefits of continuing workplace learning, not the least of which is strong engagement on the job and supporting the overall mission of the organization” (2010, p. 247). He goes on to recommend that encouraging staff members to embrace continuing professional education, by attending events that enhance their skills and experience, demonstrates organizational buy-in and support, strengthening the level of engagement and impact on library services (Massis, 2010, p. 248). But having multiple staff members attending events such as conferences involves time away from the library, travel expenses, requires extra staff coverage at the library, and may no longer be sustainable for some libraries’ budgets. With an ongoing need for continuing education for library staff, alternative models for professional development may be more viable. Consortia can do many things cooperatively among member libraries that libraries cannot afford to do individually, including offering continuing education that is relevant, timely, cost effective and convenient.

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