3 Continuing professional development
Networking, especially for those librarians who work alone or whose team is limited in size, is an important part of the role. By attending conferences, meeting new people, and participating in training days, you will develop new ideas, gain knowledge, and refine your approach to librarianship. This will help you make decisions, tackle problems, and achieve your goals, all of which can empower you to better advocate for your library.
In addition to networking, it can be beneficial to read as much about school libraries as you can. This will help you learn best practice and identify different approaches to librarianship which you can adopt in your own library and learn best practice. Just as with networking, reading relevant literature so you are up to date with developments in the school library sector will contribute to your continuing professional development (CPD). By progressing and developing as a librarian and utilising new innovations and ideas, you will elevate your status in your school, be better placed to realise your ambitions, and make sure the library is able to meet the needs of the school community.
As Nick mentioned in Video 3, networking can be a symbiotic process which benefits both your library and the wider industry. It’s important, therefore, to remember the power of unions and professional library organisations to provide guidance, support and an opportunity to network with your peers. There are many of these organisations around the world but some of the most prominent include the following.
(To avoid losing your place in the course, if you are studying on a desktop you should open the link in a new tab or window by holding down Ctrl (or Cmd on a Mac) when you click on it. If you are studying on a mobile device hold down the link and select to ‘Open in New Tab’. Return here when you have finished. You might find it useful to bookmark these links so you can return to them at a later point.)
- The CILIP School Libraries Group (SLG)
- School Library Association (SLA)
- International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA)
- Libraries Connected
- International Association of School Librarianship (IASL)
- National Education Union (NEU)
By exposing you to large networks of librarians, these organisations help reinforce that you are not alone when it comes to defending the library cause. You don’t have to have been in the profession for years; new librarians are just as welcome. Crucially, professional organisations can help you better advocate for your library by exposing you to new ideas, keeping you abreast of developments in the sector, and giving you the opportunity to meet and engage with your peers. Membership also gives you a valuable opportunity to pass your insights on to others and use your expertise to influence national policy advice for school libraries. You may wish, for example, to join committees as part of these organisations or deliver talks where you can defend the interests of other librarians and advocate for the profession as a whole.
Now that you have watched the video, you should reflect on your present approach to networking by completing Activity 3.
How often do you network with fellow library professionals? Do you feel there’s room for you to network more? If so, how?
Now give two examples of ways you could network with other library professionals and keep abreast of new developments in the sector in the future. What advantages do you think this would bring to you and your library?
There are many ways you can network with other library professionals but some possible examples might include:
- joining local or regional librarian networks
- joining a national or international library organisation
- joining an online librarian community, for example, the School Librarians' Network (SLN)
- attending conferences, for example, the SLG or IFLA conferences.