Almost every day I trip over some new digital tool or resource I hadn’t heard of previously. When I despair over all I don’t know, I remind myself in this day and age, and even in the world of school librarianship, no one knows everything about a subject. Lifelong learning is not a gentle pursuit, it’s a survival tool.
I envy Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin. In so many ways the Age of Enlightenment was a great time to be alive. Eager, curious minds such as they had could learn everything there was to know. Their familiarity with science and arts allowed them to make brilliant crossover connections.
Jefferson, an avid book collector, sold his library of 6,487 volumes to Congress in 1815, and it became the foundation for the Library of Congress. Jefferson read all his books. Today’s Library of Congress has over 36 million books and other print materials, 3.5 million recordings, 13.7 million photographs, 5.5 million maps, 6.7 million pieces of sheet music and 69 million manuscripts. A mind-boggling collection of information –and then we have what’s on the Internet.
For school librarian’s, continuous professional development is a requirement, and counting on what school districts provide is not enough. We are all responsible for our own professional development. I have been out of my high school library for nine years and I work hard each day to continue to learn and keep up with our rapidly changing world.
How do I do it? I read posts on the listservs and Facebook pages to which I belong. When someone shares a great idea, I follow up. (Usually I ask them to write an article on it for School Librarian’s Workshop so they can share it with you.) I do the same with my LinkedIn groups, people I follow on Twitter, and the TLChat on Google+. (I am going to be on the TL News Night on February 17, 2014.) I follow a few blogs and get ideas there. (I love Buffy Hamilton’s The Unquiet Librarian.)
I also go to my state conference and to national ones. For some of you the cost of traveling is prohibitive, but national conferences offer virtual attendance. And I read. I flip through a number of professional magazines and take time with articles of particular interest to me. Some days I do better than others. But I am always learning—and loving it.
What are you doing for your professional development? How do you keep up with this ever changing environment and model being a lifelong learner?