By: Carrie Fishner
The focus of our live Twitter chat on February 23, 2017 was “professional development with limited budget and/or time”. The discussion was lively, with many responders sharing some of their biggest hurdles, as well as tips for making the most of what you have available.
The first question posed to our Twitter audience was to ask what the biggest roadblock to professional development that people face is. Many of those who participated identified the focus of our topic, which are lack of time and a limited budget. Finding time that you can dedicate to professional development can be difficult for many reasons, including short staffing, working on large projects, and juggling many commitments. On the budget side, identified issues included no funding through employment, funding available through your organization may be prioritized to those who are full time or have seniority, and the difficulty in locating and competing for grants through organizations such as ALA. Webinars can be great for the time issue, as most are archived after their initial air date, so often you can sign up and then watch when it is more convenient to you.
Our next topic was about goals, what are you goals when you are looking at professional development activities? For many they were directly related to current or future projects, but for others is had to do with finding new perspectives and approaches. Having a clear idea of what your goals are as you search for opportunities can be helpful, as this may lead you to more specific providers, as well as funding opportunities that might otherwise have been missed. Developing specific skills was another very popular answer for this question, as many felt that they would get the most support from their organizations if they could directly link the professional development activity to a specific work related skill.
Many participants offered great insight into their professional development goals and struggles, but one of the most important questions we discussed was where to locate those activities. Where do you look for professional development? A lot of great answers were shared! Our participants had a varied approach for seeking out professional development activities that included sources such as Twitter, List-servs, conference networking, and the more traditional library associations and organizations. One recommendation was to look at what skills you are hoping to develop, and then to look at other organizations or fields which may also offer you the development in that area. Community and local development activities were also discussed, as connecting with this population can be quite important.
We wrapped up our discussion by asking participants what resources they would find most helpful in the future for this topic. The main suggestion was to look early for resources, ALA and similar associations offer many professional development activities, as well as grants and scholarships. However, many of the deadlines for these money opportunities are early, so you need to pay attention and plan ahead.
Professional development is an area that most would say is highly important to their field, and yet it can often be left as an after-thought. Taking time, at least once a year, to lay out a set of goals and to look for opportunities can be what is needed to jump-start your professional development plan. Don’t be afraid to try something new or out of the box, you may discover a development gem!