Career Development is YOUR Responsibility

Mary Kelly —  April 25, 2013 — 4 Comments

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?

  1. 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.
  2. 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!)
  3. Commit to regular, but small, bits of time.  Fifteen minutes a day is often more productive than many hours all at once.
  4. 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:

Coursera (
University level courses are offered in technology, humanities, science, and business.

Code Academy (
Offers tutorials on Web fundementals, Javascript, Python, etc.

Microsoft office tutorials: (
Tutorials of the Microsoft Office applications.

Open Culture (
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?

Mary Kelly


Co-founder of and library utility player. Lover of: library data, spreadsheets, collection quality, cats and cardigans. Follow me on twitter @librarymary40

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. Found: April 22 – 26, 2013 | Library Lost & Found - April 27, 2013

    […] We were reminded that we are responsible for our own career development. […]

  2. Professional Development | Library Dreamings - May 31, 2013

    […] I’m always looking at ways to improve my skills, and by no means am I perfect or even particularly good at everything but I try and learn at least something about the various aspects of librarianship.  My biggest struggle at the moment is motivating others to try and learn a new skill. This is especially true if the skill involves technology, whether a new device or new software/medium. Have to agree with Mary Kelly who on her blog Library Lost & Found said […]

  3. A Facelift for the Practical Librarian | - July 19, 2013

    […] I am actually taking my own advice! (You can read my tirades on keeping current here, and over at Library Lost and Found.) In addition, Awful Library Books also got a facelift last spring and our tech support got a […]

  4. New Year, New Resolutions | Library Lost & Found - January 16, 2014

    […] I have yapped on and on that librarians need to stay current with professional development. This year, give yourself a specific goal. Mine this year is to be become good enough with Joomla that I can be part of our library’s webmaster’s fiery crash scenario. My goal is to get to the point where she doesn’t inhale sharply everytime I start typing on the keyboard. […]

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