ALA Presentation: On the Ground, Online & Operative – Perceptions & Effectiveness of Public Library Staff Professional Development

Greetings all! Monday June 25th 9am MCC Room 284, I’m presenting a program at ALA Annual in New Orleans on an ongoing research project:

Historically, public librarians and library personnel have pursued opportunities for professional learning experiences (PLE) such as reading professional literature, attending in-service days and conferences. By the late 1990s, webinars and other technologically focused opportunities for learning offered more channels for development. Through all of these changes, institutional support and personal drive for learning were proven to be important facets of PLE. Emerging technologies shift the emphasis for PLEs and the delivery mechanisms. These now include online conferences, Learning 2.0 programs and large scale Web-based learning programs. At the same time these options for learning grow, public libraries of all kinds are adding digital creation labs and creation spaces as models of library service evolve. The impact of emerging, disruptive technologies on library staff learning is evident as the role of the public librarian shifts from searching for information to co-collaborator and co-learner with our colleagues and our users. Understanding how public library staff are learning about these service models, emerging technologies and trends provides insights into how to best deliver training for the public library of the future. This is important to the growth and relevance of libraries in North America, Australia, and everywhere..

This session presents results of a multi-national survey of public library employees and their perceptions of professional learning experiences in a time of rapidly evolving technologies and mechanisms for delivery. The session will be divided between a short presentation of the research and findings, and a longer discussion/interactive exercise that explores these questions: What contributes to successful development opportunities for staff? What role should technology play? What challenges do employees face and how can library administration overcome them? How can we create a true culture of learning? A guided exercise for individuals or groups will allow time for them to create a preliminary plan of action for invigorating professional learning experiences for their own staff. As part of the ongoing discussion of how we learn to bestsellers do our jobs, we’ll look at what creates “the best or most rewarding professional development opportunities.” This session is part of an ongoing research project with the University of Southern Queensland and the Australian Library and Information Association.



Slide Download (PDF): ALAPDPLAStephens

PD Plan Worksheet (Word): PDPLsStephensPlanSheet


Formula for Success

Personal, Actionable, Accessible

Hope to see you there!


Michael Stephens, San Jose State University

Helen Partridge, University of Southern Queensland

Kate Davis, University of Southern Queensland