Research Article: Perceptions of US Public Library Staff Professional Development

Just published in Library Leadership & Management:

Technology, Collaboration, and Learning: Perceptions and Effectiveness of US Public Library Staff Professional Development

Michael Stephens, Stacey A Mitchell, Ari Zickau


The primary purpose of this study was to investigate the preferences and perceptions of professional development (PD) activities for public library staff. The survey instrument was distributed to public librarians and paraprofessionals throughout the United States. Beyond the challenges of time and money, a picture emerged from the data of what might best serve the needs of librarians and paraprofessionals for PD. Staff want to feel encouraged and supported about learning for their jobs. The chance to network and meet in groups is preferred by most respondents with short webinars and online learning filling in the gaps, especially if content goes beyond the usual introductory level. From these findings, it is possible to suggest three “action plans” for improving PD for public library professionals and paraprofessionals. These plans include: developing structured and supported PD programs as part of public library administration, promoting a culture of learning throughout the institution, and participating in and contributing to state and regional opportunities for PD of public library staff.