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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Call to Action: Shake Up Your Continuing Education Routine

For today’s Call to Action I am asking you to rethink something you already do but probably not with the enthusiasm and gusto you should-- Continuing Education.

Now I know I have some invested interest in this post, but hear me out. One of the reasons I dedicate my professional career to training library workers is that I know, from personal experience, how much better training could be. I have sat through plenty of boring and useless training sessions myself.

I want all of you to stop accepting bad, boring, and useless CE. I want you all to come away from the training sessions you do attend with more excitement and skills to serve your patrons better. I want to inspire you to keep signing up for more training even when you feel like you have suffered too many bad ones in a row. But, I also know that I cannot be the one providing training to every single one of you. You have to take some active role here.

And that is where I come in to help.

Your first step is to attack the same-old, same-old training you attend with a new determination to take away at least one thing from that session and try it at your library. I know it might be hard, but you can do it if you try hard enough, even if it is a how NOT to do things take away.

Second, fill out evaluation forms for every training you attend. As both an organizer of larger programs and the presenter for a myriad of sessions, I can tell you I always look at every evaluation and consider every comment, good and bad and I have made adjustments because of comments. As for programs I plan with ARRT, we always use the evaluations to make small and large programming decisions.

You cannot complain about lackluster CE options if you don’t take the time to fill out the evaluations.

Okay those first two steps are easy. They don’t really “shake up” anything like I promised in the title.  Ah, but we haven’t gotten to my third step.

Third, Reconsider where you get your CE from. Why do you only look at the library world for options? If you want to shake things up, stop going to only library world programs. You can learn from local business associations, digital conferences, consumer electronics shows, even attending a training for book stores is something new.

Looking at a program that is outside of your field forces you to see what you do from a new angle because the content isn’t promising to be for you. Rather it is NOT for you, but you will instinctively make parallels to your work. Trust me, I have done this. It is amazing.

Why not go to a different conference this year? Use this post to help you argue why to your administrators.

Here is another suggestion based on a past Call to Action. Go to a Con for a writers group. Back in April of 2017 I had this Call to Action asking you to “Get Involved with a Writers Group.” Go read it all, but in it I write about all that I learned by going to StokerCon 2017.

As a direct result of that experience, I signed on to plan the entire Librarians’ Day this year. Go on over to the horror blog to see all of the details. Those who haven’t clicked, you should. It’s 3/1 in Providence, only $65 and includes lunch, free books, and hanging out with me! Go, click. I’ll wait.

You can go to Librarians’ Day at many writers’ conferences. Or just go to an entire writers' conference. There are thousands from huge national one to small, regional ones. Writers would love to have you there. But, I can only vouch for how great the one I am co-corrdinating will be. I have planned panels that I would want. I have made sure the the topics and presenters will be useful and interesting.

So let’s commit to shaking up our CE routines in 2018. The best way to commit to learning something new is to take on something new. But you may need more ideas than I have listed in this post. Solution: ask your local library system HQ for help. Mine, RAILS, always posts CE opportunities from all over the region. It’s only a few clicks away, but if yours is not that easy, call. They are there to help you. That’s their mission. Reach out.

And finally, if nothing here will work for you, organize something at your library. Here are some ideas: get a group genre study going or a staff book club, start a training program where people take turns teaching something they do everyday in their departments, or even take a poll on unique skills or interest the staff have a find a way for those to be shared with everyone.

The point is there are NO excuses to do nothing here. Stop being passive and expecting great CE to be brought to you. Take a hold of your professional development, shake it up, and come out energized  on the other side. You and your patrons will both be pleased with the results.

For past Call to Action posts, click here.

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