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Professional Connections in Today’s Digital World

Submitted by Melissa Rowse, MLS
Library Director
Degenstein Community Library

Why?  Why? Why  is it so hard to stay connected?  You would think with social media, email, and text messaging that we would have these large professional networks.  Unfortunately, if you are like me, I am swamped by so much information – almost to the point of information overload – that I miss out on many of the opportunities that come my way.

Since I do believe in lifelong learning, where can I go to get the best professional development and expand my networks? I have a couple of recommendations for you.

If you are new to the library profession or Pennsylvania, I would strongly encourage membership in our state association, the Pennsylvania Library Association.  An insider tip –  from now until June 15, first time personal members receive a 50% discount on their membership fees.  Not only do you get acquainted with people in the same geographic area, but several training opportunities abound.  The Pennsylvania Library Association is broken down into 8 chapters throughout the state.  Each chapter hosts a day long workshop every year.  In addition, the association also offers an annual conference that spans 3 days and focuses on several different tracks depending on your interest – public libraries, academic libraries, youth services, and management.

I thoroughly enjoy attending a workshop or conference in person, not just for the information, but because it allows me to focus on what is being presented.  Many times, when I am trying to listen to a webinar, I start to multitask and my attention wanders.  I also value the personal connections that I create by attending face to face trainings.  Although the training itself is designated as educational, I learn so much just by interacting with fellow attendees.

Sometimes it just isn’t possible to attend a conference or workshop in person.  On those occasions, I would strongly suggest Webjunction for free webinar trainings.  Webjunction is a website created by OCLC Research that provides free trainings and resources to libraries. Although, they are geared towards public libraries, many of the courses can be used for both school and academic libraries.

Still need more professional connections?  Consider joining LinkedIn, the largest professional network with over 500 million registered users.  LinkedIn has a wonderful series of tools that enable you to stay connected.  You can post job advertisements, publish articles, update your profile, and keep abreast of industry news.  LinkedIn also now offers a premium package for career development and human resources management.

Professional development can be overwhelming.  Where is a gal to turn?  My last suggestion would be to reach out to your district consultant (if you are a public library) or fellow colleague to see what products they use.  There is much being created daily.  If we can learn a few tricks of the trade, we can be more efficient and better professionals in the long run.  We also are leading from the front by modeling lifelong learning habits.  Don’t let technology hamper your education, instead let it aid in your education.

For more information about the Pennsylvania Library Association, please visit www.palibraries.org.   You are also welcome to reach me at mrowse@degensteinlibrary.org.

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