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Thursday, February 8 • 8:30am - 10:00am
Session 4.1B - Juried Papers: Role of LIS Schools in Ongoing Professional Development for Practitioners.

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In this age of libraries transforming, continuing education is a necessity for library professionals to keep relevant. Ongoing challenges for the Library and Information Science community are to identify key areas to increase professional knowledge and skills and to determine the best ways to deliver professional learning (Harhai & Krueger, 2016). One of the goals of the Media Smart Libraries grant, funded in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and awarded to the Graduate School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Rhode Island, was to increase the digital and media literacy skills of practicing school and public youth librarians. Through a partnership with the Rhode Office of Library and Information Services, the grant project providing two years of continuing education workshops on digital and media literacy competencies for librarians serving children and teens.  An evaluation of the program indicated that practicing librarians are motivated to continue their learning in topics they consider critical in servicing today’s user needs and behaviors.
Continuous professional learning is the acquisition of professional skills and knowledge beyond those required for initial qualification and learned in formal programs of education. (Rafiz, Jabeen, & Arif, 2017).  Librarians in all phases of their careers have reasons to continue their education. A librarian freshly graduated from a LIS program may want or need additional education for their first professional job. Professional learning can facilitate a mid-career librarian’s chance for promotion. For senior staff, continuing education may be needed to stay up to date in the field from a multitude of angles (Chapelle & Wark, 2014). According to Cromer & Testi’s (1994) study, within 10-12 years of receiving formal education, most information professionals are about half as competent to meet the demands of the profession as they were at graduation. With the rapid technological advances of the past 20 years, the amount of time an information professional’s knowledge and skills get out of date is likely much quicker, accentuating the need for continuing education. 
Workforce training benefits both the library employee and employer. Training increases skills, enhances professional and personal knowledge, supports career growth, and helps develop professional social networks to share ideas (Hamid & Soroya, 2015). A library organization’s success is indirectly related to training of their staff because their increased knowledge and skills can reduce time and money wastage (Hamid & Soroya, 2015) and result in services that better meet user needs, ultimately demonstrating the library’s value in the community. Hall-Ellis & Grealy (2013) argue the need for a professional development system by stating that graduate LIS programs move students from novice to advanced beginner. Then the responsibility to move professionals from advanced beginner to competent and beyond should be a joint effort of the professional, employer, and other state library organizations such as LIS schools.
The success of the MSL program suggests the positive outcomes of LIS schools taking initiative to support librarians’ continuous professional learning. In order to explore methods to continue and broaden the impact of the grant program, this qualitative study will engage library professionals from all six New England states to investigate 1) What competencies do library staff see as important for practicing professionals? 2)  How do practicing librarians prefer delivery of professional learning? And 3) What role should a regional LIS school play in supporting continuous professional learning? 
Data collection will take place during one-hour sessions at each New England state, facilitated by the faculty members of GSLIS who also comprise the MSL grant team. The session will be open to all library professionals and staff, and promoted by each state’s library organization and associations.  Data will be gathered through focus groups during which participants will engage in hands-on activities, such as completing consensograms, to convey their thoughts on professional development needs of practicing librarians.  Researchers will employ qualitative content analysis to analyze data from the focus group interviews and visual and textual information from the consensograms and other activities. Data will be analyzed using qualitative methods for the group interviews and content analysis of the written and visual data. 
Professional development and lifelong learning are key areas identified in either the core organizational values, strategic plans or competency standards of library groups such as the American Library Association, the Public Library Association, the American Association of School Librarians, the Association of Academic and Research Libraries, and the International Federation of Library Associations. The significance of this study will be to inform how a regional ALA accredited LIS school can work with library professionals and organizations to develop and support continuous professional learning. One impact of this study is that it could drive curriculum changes that include new courses and course revisions for the development and implementation of post-graduate certificates and other modes of learning. Other impacts may include an increased awareness of the leadership role a regional LIS school can play in creating proper platforms for learning and the benefits of partnerships to support the information and library community’s basic need for continuing professional learning.
 Chapelle, J. L., & Wark. L. (2014). I’ve got my MLIS, now what? Further educational opportunities for LIS professionals. Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research, 9 (1).
Cromer, D. E., & Testi, A. R. (1994). Integrated continuing education for reference librarians.  ReferenceServices Review, 22 (4).
Hall-Ellis, S. D., & Grealy, D. S. (2013). The Dreyfus model of skill acquisition: A career development framework for succession planning and management in academic libraries. College and Research Libraries, 74 (6), 587-603.
Hamid, A., & Soroya, S. (2015). Current trends of continuing education programs in the LIS professions. Pakistan Library & Information Science Journal, 46 (3), 3-12.
Harhai, M., & Krueger, J. (2016). Competency-based professional development. Journal of Library Administration, 56 (8), 939-956.
Rafiq, M., Jabeen, M., & Arif, M. (2017). Continuing education (CE) of LIS professionals: Need analysis and role of LIS schools. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 43 (1), 25-33.

Thursday February 8, 2018 8:30am - 10:00am
Meadowbrook I

Attendees (18)