Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Original Publication Date


Journal/Book/Conference Title

Charleston Library Conference

Date of Submission

July 2018


With the constantly changing landscape in 21st century libraries, it would seem that professional development would be more important than ever. However, research indicates that few libraries have formal professional development programs and there are mixed messages from library leaders regarding the necessity and importance of professional development. It is no secret that libraries always seem to be facing budget cuts and funding for professional development is often seen as a low priority. We were curious to understand how professional development is viewed and executed in other academic libraries.

Professional development means different things to different people. To some, professional development means giving (or receiving) money each year to be used in a manner determined by the employee. For others, it means attending an ALA or other library-specific conference or participating in external training or conference within or outside the realm of librarianship. It may also include participation in online offerings, such as webinars, MOOCs, academic classes, and/or in-person trainings and workshops focused on specific skill development such as leadership.

In the session, the facilitators shared current research findings about how libraries define professional development in order to find out how participants defined professional development and the challenges they faced at their institutions. In addition, an online polling software and the 15% solution and 1-2-4-All facilitations from the book, The surprising power of liberating structures: Simple rules to unleash a culture of innovation (Lipmanowicz & McCandless, 2013) were used to get the group to define workable solutions to their professional development dilemmas that they could take back to their workplaces. At the end of the session, participants wrote their takeaway solutions on a postcard so that the session facilitators could mail the solutions to the participants after 30 days as a way of following up on the exercise.


Patricia D. Sobczak, Agnes K. Bradshaw

Is Part Of

VCU Libraries Faculty and Staff Publications

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