I am always looking for ways to improve my job performance. Yeah, I know I need to be better organized and perhaps not have an anxiety attack every time I present a program. I have worked in libraries for over a decade and I still haven’t gotten that much better, but I am working on it!
What I am talking about is being a better librarian. There is a conscious choice in career development. Opportunities are everywhere for career development, but too often we see people barely put in effort. Many managers I know (and not just in libraries) are distressed when staff members don’t put in the effort or interest to improve their own skill set. Conversely, managers, too, have a responsibility to provide opportunities, and most importantly, schedule time for employees to learn new skills.
Chances are that a perfect blend of scheduling, training budgets, and managerial support will not exist. Often, the reality is that there is nothing to support you and your career. You – and you alone – will be the only one to care about your career. So how do you stay current, enthusiastic and pointed in the right direction?
- Get a buddy or two (preferably from different libraries) and meet frequently to just chat. This will remind you that you are not alone. Also, your group can provide you healthy feedback. About three or four times a year I meet with a couple of librarians. We bounce ideas off each other and offer support. It is informal and usually beer is involved.
- Stick to reasonable goals. Everyone says they must be “better at technology” but no one knows the way. Limit yourself to something like perfecting a spreadsheet or learning more about the ILS. Maybe commit to regularly reading some blogs. (I hear that Library Lost and Found is AWESOME!)
- Commit to regular, but small, bits of time. Fifteen minutes a day is often more productive than many hours all at once.
- Finally, understand yourself as a learner. I need to practice multiple times every day until I “get it.” I know others that make a training sheet to teach others after they have learned something. They do this to make sure that they really understand what they are doing.
No budgets mean that much of your career development is going to be DIY. There are lots of opportunities for improving yourself that are available. The key is figuring out which one works best for you. Here are some free resources that offer training:
University level courses are offered in technology, humanities, science, and business.
Code Academy (http://www.codecademy.com/)
Microsoft office tutorials: (http://office.microsoft.com)
Tutorials of the Microsoft Office applications.
Open Culture (http://openculture.com)
A variety of university level seminars and course in all areas.
I also hesitate to point to the obvious. We work in libraries. Perhaps there is something there we can use?