Thursday 12 September 2013

Creative CPD at LibCampEast

Last weekend I attended my first library camp at LibCampEast. Library camps are something I've heard a lot about but not had a chance to attend until now. Once I signed up I started thinking that it would be good practice for me to pitch a session. Since my blog post on CPD seemed to strike a chord with people and fit with the theme of the conference, I decided to pitch a session on creative methods of CPD. The format was a brain storming session in small groups after which participants fed their ideas back. The post below covers the results of this feedback and also serves as a follow up to my first CPD post.

Conferences provide lots of CPD but you don't always have to spend a lot of money to get the best out of them. You can follow along on Twitter using a hashtag or use the conference website to access the presentations. If you're lucky enough to attend it's worth following up on ideas or projects that presenters mention, as this is a great way to contextualise the experience. Volunteering to speak at or organise a conference was another method of CPD highlighted. Experience of public speaking and event organisation is always a great addition to a CV. TeachMeets were cited as a great example of this, especially for first time speakers or organisers.

The Internet provides lots of opportunity for CPD. ITunes U and other podcasts can often be downloaded for free and can be listened to/watched on the commute. There are a wide variety of podcasts available so you don't have to limit yourself to the library ones. You can even skip to the good bits! Other online suggestions included:

  • Webinars
  • SlideShare
  • 23Things programs
  • MOOCs
  • Librarian blogs
  • RSS feeds of relevant sites
  • Skype
  • Email lists
  • Email alerts for journals

There are also several low cost CPD methods in the real world. Exhibitions like the London  Book Fair are a way of speaking to vendors and some will even provide free training in using their products. Vendor events are also a great place to network with other librarians. Visiting other libraries is a way to get an insight into workplaces outside your sector. CILIP special interest groups often run tours to various libraries so it's worth keeping an eye out. 

Setting up or taking part in professional networks was another popular suggestion. The International Librarians Network provides a way to connect professionals across the globe but less formal local networks were also mentioned. If the idea of formal networking intimidates you then why not attend a library social event to get to know others in the sector? Some participants had organised coffee mornings in order to meet other staff in their organisation. Taking online relationships into the real world such as Twitter meet ups can work well. Participants will already have a common interest and it's a lot easier to talk to people you already 'know' online. Other suggestions for online groups included reading groups, journal club and organised chat such as #uklibchat.

Getting involved in a professional organisation like CILIP or SLA can be a great way to develop professionally. Committee work can give you experience of teamwork or budgeting and shows a commitment to the profession. These organisations also offer grants and bursaries to their members which can be used to fund CPD. 

Other methods discussed included:

  • Learning boxes - these started out as actual boxes but can also be used online. The basic idea is that you describe a situation, what you learnt and what you would do differently. You then come together to go through the box and learn from others experiences
  • CPD happy hours - taking an hour a week to work on your development. From reading blogs to learning how to use software these can be adapted to the individual. The important thing is to keep a log of your activities
  • Writing articles or book reviews 
  • Using outside interests such as working with youth groups to illustrate team work or organisational skills

Participants rounded up the session by sharing their general CPD tips. It's important to keep track of any training or other activities, whether for a formal program or just for your own use. Methods suggested included:

  • Keeping a diary
  • Reflective learning journals
  • Reporting back to your team on any activities such as conferences which might be useful for them to know about

Many people highlighted the crucial role that support has to play in CPD activities. This support can come from managers and other less formal sources, either online or in person. It's important to remember to ask for support, especially if you're undertaking a formal process like Chartership. Get together with a group of like-minded people or online friends and you will soon find yourself motivated.

A final point from the session was that it's OK to say something doesn't work for you. Not every method works for everyone and there's nothing wrong with that. The important thing is finding the method that works for you and I hope that the session gave people some ideas to take forward.

No-Nonsense Guide to Training in Libraries / Barbara Allan

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