One challenge that I face in my work is keeping on top of the constant development required to excel at my job. This development is two fold.
In the first instance, I (and all people in our fields) need to keep up with all the new trends and technologies that affect how we can provide information services. This means signing up to all sorts of mailing lists (one of the many I enjoy is the Center for the Future of Libraries) and reading professional journals, as well as taking every opportunity to learn new software and play with any hardware that I can, and think about how it can be used to improve what we do. Lucky I love life-long learning! So, for example, this year so far, I have learnt how to use Excel macros, Adobe Premiere for movie editing, H5P interactive content creation, Adobe Captivate for tutorials, Powtoons for simple animations, more html coding, Browzine for LibGuides, and an array of iPad apps, just to name a few! I work a lot in e-learning, and so the content we develop needs to be constantly updated and reworked to remain relevant and effective. As new technologies and software become available, the team in the library can continually improve the lessons we provide online, as well as our blended learning workshops. It is wonderful to be able to always make things better, but at the same time it can be exhausting knowing the work is never done!
One of the most important resources in this development is your peers. I would never have been able to learn so many new programs without other librarians sharing their knowledge. Every time I hear a colleague speak about a new piece of software they are using, I ask to make a time to sit down with them to go over their tips and tricks. Whenever I’m stuck there’s many people I can contact to ask if they have an idea of a program that will do what I need to achieve. And visa versa, many times I have been able to suggest a particular software to someone who wants to create a video, make an online lesson, or build something new. There’s also always some good video tutorials to get you started with the vast amount of new technology out there. The most important thing is just to stay open to new ideas, seek out opportunities to learn, and always find time to play around with new things that come your way.
The second facet of consistent development is of course personal and professional development. This is something that can be a challenge, as many of you would know. Balancing your life and work and finding time for additional developmental commitments can be difficult. There is always some kind of lecture, conference, webinar or get together to join! The ILN ran a discussion topic last round about professional development and some of these challenges (and strategies for dealing with them) were highlighted by those authors. I do have a tendency to bite off more than I can chew and then feel a bit under the pump to fulfill all my commitments. But there is also a pressure not to become too lax as, especially being a new graduate, I feel a lot of competition for moving ‘up the ladder’ in the field. There is a need to set yourself apart and prove that you are engaged with the wider librarian community and profession. This year I have managed to write an article for a professional magazine and a column for a journal, join a new professional association, keep my commitment to write for the ILN of course, take part in two mentoring programs through my workplace, present at my first conference, co-author a paper, write for my employers blog and post as part of the social media team, and attend a number of workshops, lectures, webinars and other professional development events. I am thankful that my employer allows for some planned professional development to be done during work hours, or I’d never find enough time in the day! It can sometimes feel a bit confronting to know that no matter how much I learn, I’ll never be ‘finished’, but at the same time, it’s exciting to know that there’s always something new happening and I can never become bored with my work.
- How do you balance your professional development with your life and work?
- How do you decide what is the ‘right amount’ of development?
- How do you stay on top of new trends and technologies in your workplace?
We’d love to hear about how you deal with these challenges, and other challenges that you face. You can discuss with your ILN partner or join in the wider conversation here in the comments or on Twitter or Facebook using #interlibnet.
– Michelle De Aizpurua, ILN Content Officer.