Archive for the ‘Professional Development’ Category

2013 SCLA/SELA Joint Conference is coming!

November 1, 2013 Comments off

The South Carolina Library Association 2013 annual conference is right around the corner. This year it will be a joint conference with the Southeastern Library Association and held in beautiful downtown Greenville on November 13-15. The theme is “Local Roots, Regional Reach.”

SCLA_logoThe 2013 SCLA/SELA Joint Conference promises to be a great opportunity for librarians throughout the Southeast to attend informative sessions, network with professional colleagues, enjoy the company of old and new friends, share and learn from libraryland, savor the great city of Greenville, and much more. The joint conference should encourage a healthy attendance with librarians from all library types. I’m really looking forward to it.

SELA logoAnd, fellow conference attendees, let’s make use of social media! Yes, avail yourself of the face-to-face opportunities (attend the sessions/keynotes/meetings, visit the exhibits, and mingle at receptions and other social events), but let’s also take advantage of social media to expand the sphere of engagement. Twitter users, let’s wear out the hashtag #scla2013 to share and interact from the conference. I know @sclanews will be there along with myself (@jkennerly) and a number of others. Connect with other Twitter users who are attending/following the conference (and likely make some new connections along the way). Share your insights. Share your conference pics. Share, share, share!

twitter_logo_large   #scla2013

In closing let me share some interesting graphics. Below you will find a couple wordclouds showing Twitter activity at the 2012 SCLA Annual Conference as well as an infographic showing demographic data of attendees. (A special shout out to Donald Wood for providing the attendance data.) Enjoy!

Will you be attending this year’s conference? What type of library will you be representing? Hope to see you there!

Most-tweeted words at SCLA 2012:


Twitter users at SCLA 2012:


SCLA 2012 attendance infographic:


Following the Computers in Libraries Conference Online

March 21, 2011 Comments off

Computers in Libraries 2011Once again, this year, I will not be attending the Computers in Libraries (CIL) conference in D.C. Bummer for me, really, because it is such a great conference for libraryland.

For those who may not be familiar with the Computers in Libraries conference, the website describes it this way:

The conference program is filled with ideas, innovative practices, tips, and techniques for identifying community needs and opportunities as well as designing and delivering strategic and creative services that are of primary importance to our communities. The emphasis is on creating strategic value for our user communities and using new web tools to build innovative and priority services.

CIL 2011 kicked off this morning. If you are like me and (1) are not at CIL 2011 and (2) wish you were, there is hope thanks to online connections. Here’s a quick rundown of 4 ways that we can follow CIL 2011 online:

  1. – A very handy blog provided by Information Today (who organizes the conference). It provides access to a lot of great information and resources about/from the conference (especially in the Computers in Libraries section). Some of the goodies you will find there are listed below.
  2. Twitter – Following tweets with the hashtag #cil11. This can be done several ways. You can follow the tweets feeds at or TweetChat.
  3. USTREAM Computers in Libraries Channel – Live streaming (complete with live chat) of the 3 keynote addresses. If you miss the live streams, the videos are usually archived at USTREAM for later viewing. I imagine that will be the case for CIL 2011 live streams. (Note: The Monday morning keynote speaker, James Crawford from Google Books, is MIA due to a flight delay. However, Information Today stepped up and did a great job of putting together an impromptu panel, and it is being live streamed.)
  4. Blogs – Quite a number of librarians in attendance at CIL 2011 will be blogging from the conference.

These are some good ways to begin connecting online with the conference. (The nice thing is that a number of these resources move beyond simply stalking the conference to interacting with those in attendance.) Other ways will surely surface as the conference continues. Many presenters, for example, will likely post their presentation slide decks at SlideShare.

Go quickly and enjoy. The conference is already underway!


Library Day in the Life, Day 2: Professional Development

January 26, 2011 Comments off

The continuing saga of Library Day in the Life, Round 6…

Activities ran the gamut yesterday (Tuesday). From report writing, to planning for library instruction sessions, to dealing with the scanner (don’t ask), to budget work, to checking the building for leaks (it rained all day yesterday, and when that happens there are places that we need to watch…sigh), to evaluating gift books, to helping a student find that particular book in the collection–it was a typical exercise in a key skill of the trade: flexibility.

With that said, I did notice one theme was most pervasive and continued on and off throughout the day…

Professional development.

I didn’t plan it, but much of what I had my feet in yesterday was in some form or another related to growth or improvement in the profession. Activities serving as a sharpening stone or kiln, if you will. Shaping. Strengthening. Some examples included:

  • Professional reading (I always encourage students nearing graduation to identify professional publications in their area of study/soon-to-be-profession and READ. I took my own advice.)
  • Signing up for an upcoming webcast on Google ebooks (The topic of ebooks should be on every librarians radar.)
  • Following and engaging in Twitter conversations about things of relevance to my job and library services (I even learned about the Google ebooks webcast in my twitter stream.)
  • Planning for a special library staff forum (later this week) where we will talk about our library and try to get to the heart of who we are and how we go about doing things. (I plan to write more about this after we meet. It has the potential to be revolutionary for us.)

A closing word to library school students and others considering the profession:

Yes, the day may be filled with book-finding, leak-checking, and scanner-wrestling, but there is always a place for professional development. Don’t just be content with the bag of tools and tricks that you carry away from library school. Use them, yes, but build on them. Drag yourself over the sharpening stone. Get into the kiln. Continue to develop yourself professionally. Don’t find time for it. Make time for it. (That’s another post.)


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Sand, Surf and SCLA Annual Conference 2010

October 19, 2010 Comments off

Later today I will be heading toward the coast to attend the South Carolina Library Association Annual Conference 2010 in Myrtle Beach. This year’s conference is entitled, “South Carolina Libraries: Advocacy from the Ground Up.” Keynote speakers include:

  • Roberta Stevens, President of the American Library Association
  • Lynne Bradley, Director of the Office of Government Relations of the ALA’s Washington Office
  • Walter Edgar, Southern historian/author and Director of the Institute for Southern Studies at the University of South Carolina

The slate of concurrent sessions includes some interesting topics, and I have some good friends among the presenters. It promises to be a fun and productive time.

I’ll be on Twitter (@jkennerly) and using the hashtag #scla10. Send me a tweet if you would like to connect.

Looking forward to the conference, the coast, meeting some new people, and catching up with some good friends and great librarians from across the state! Maybe I’ll see you there!


Webinars and Virtual Conferences

October 5, 2010 1 comment

Do you and your staff struggle to find funds or time to travel and attend professional development events such as conferences, workshops, and seminars? If so, have you considered webinars and virtual conferences? A number of online staff development opportunities exist–many of them at very little cost. And in some cases…for free. That’s right. Free.

This is certainly true in the library world. Free (or very low-cost) webinars abound for library staff development and training. Likewise, virtual conferences can be very affordable alternatives when it simply isn’t feasible within your budget or work schedule to hit the road or take to the skies for overnight/multi-day events.

Marianne Lenox has written a post in praise of the free webinar over at the ALA Learning Round Table blog. Her post includes a handy Google Reader Bundle that she put together to keep track of free webinar offerings with relevance to libraries. You can add the bundle to your favorite RSS reader and learn about upcoming free webinars that may be of interest to you or other members of your library staff.

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the one-day virtual summit, Ebooks: Libraries at the Tipping Point, presented by Library Journal. I have attended a number of webinars, but this was my first experience with a virtual conference. I must say, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I heard some interesting speakers and took away some informative thoughts and ideas–all for a very, very reasonable cost well within our limited staff development budget this year. One thing that impressed me was how much interaction was available between attendees, presenters, and vendors. When done well–as was this conference–there is much to be said for virtual attendance at such events.

Do you know of any good sources of information on free or low-cost webinars? Feel free to share them in a comment below.

If you are reading this but don’t work in a library, chances are there are free or low-cost webinars, etc. related to your job or area of interest that are available. Search the web. Ask others in your profession. Check with professional organizations. With a little investigating, you just may find something of interest.



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5 Thoughts for New Librarians

May 17, 2010 Comments off

It is graduation season. Many graduates have just recently tossed their mortarboards into the air, and others will be joining them over the next few weeks. Among them all are those who will be entering the library profession, having earned a masters degree in library science. They are librarians–the newest among the clan.

Last week I was able to find time to read through the May 2010 issue of College & Research Libraries News. In it is an article by Rene Tanner entitled “Making the Most of Your Career: Advice for New Academic Librarians.” Reading this article turned my thoughts to a member of my library staff who was one of those individuals graduating this month with her M.L.I.S. degree. She joined our library staff in January 2006, and I remember very vividly that day back in 2007 when she approached me to let me know that she wanted to pursue a masters degree in library science. It has been a joy mentoring her and watching her learn new skills and develop her own take on what it means to be a librarian. And now, after three years of taking classes part-time while holding down her job at our library, she has completed her studies and officially claimed the right and privilege of being called a librarian. I look forward to the contributions that she will bring to the job as she accepts new responsibilities and challenges.

While there are wiser, more seasoned veteran librarians than me, I would like to offer a few words–5 thoughts–to the newest members of our profession.

1. Celebrate your accomplishments. You have devoted many hours to a graduate library science program. You have gathered wisdom from lectures, broadened your concept of what it means to be an information handler, collaborated with fellow students, tackled issues facing the profession, written your reflections about those issues, learned new skill sets, and shaped your dreams about how you can contribute to the work of libraries. You have come a long way. The real work lies ahead, but for now enjoy what you have accomplished.

2. Find your place. A public library. A college campus library. A K-12 school library. A law library or some other special library. A non-traditional library setting. You may or may not already know the setting where you feel you can most thrive. If so, congratulations. You have subdued half the battle already. If not, be patient, explore the options, talk with veteran librarians, and take note of how you feel about the profession in various settings. The same holds true not only for the setting, but also for the various roles within those settings. Study to learn those jobs/areas within the library where your skill set–your talents–make the greatest contributions and where you feel the most fulfilled at the end of the day.

3. Join the fray. When you land your first library job out of graduate school, remember that you will be joining a group of folks and a library with a history and a mission that is well underway. I guess what I am trying to say is: Acknowledge your role among the many and join in the team effort to provide and promote library resources and services.

4. Sing new songs. While it is important to recognize and work with the existing makeup of a library and its staff, don’t be afraid to bring your abilities and ideas to the table–no matter how new or untraditional they may seem. Be respectful, but be a contributor. Learn and join in with the tunes that are well-known among that library’s staff, but sing your new songs as well. You just may find others humming your new tunes or asking you to teach the song to them.

5. Bring the passion. Right now, do you feel the excitement that comes at the beginning of a journey? Do you have the passion? It is my hope that you are teeming with ideas and energy that will breathe new life into libraries. In a profession that can be underpaid and overlooked, never doubt the value of what you can offer as a librarian. Hold the banner high. With a well-placed passion and professional enthusiasm, you can encourage those around you and make a difference.

To all the recent library school graduates out there, I offer my heart-felt congratulations and my excitement in knowing that there continue to be those who hear and heed the call. Welcome to the ranks, fellow librarians!


6 Ways I’m Following CIL2010 Online

April 13, 2010 8 comments

For the last three years, I have enjoyed a trip to Arlington, VA about this time for the Computers in Libraries (CIL) conference. Alas, CIL2010 began yesterday, and here I remain on the homefront. I was not able to attend this year due to library budget restraints, but I have tried not to let that fact dampen my spirits. No standing in the corner pouting for me. Rather, I have chosen to use this as an opportunity to reach for the silver lining. I can’t be there in person, but (thanks to today’s technology) I can be there–to a large extent–virtually.

So I did some homework last week, and here are 6 ways I am following CIL2010 online:

  1. – This website/blog, provided by Information Today (who organizes the conference), serves as a grand central station of sorts. From here, you can access Resources@CIL2010 (including such things as the conference agenda, program, and wiki), CILLive (for live streaming of the 3 keynote addresses and an additional Tuesday morning session), follow a nearly real-time stream of tweets coming from conference attendees with Twitter@CIL2010, see a list of Bloggers@CIL2010, and more.
  2. Twitter – Following tweets with the hashtag #CIL2010. This can be done several ways. You can follow the tweets feeds at Twitter@CIL2010 or What the HashTag?!, use Twitter Search to search for the hashtag #CIL2010 (which regularly prompts you to refresh the search), or build a custom Twitter search column in TweetDeck or HootSuite to monitor tweets that include #CIL2010. (I am experimenting with all these approaches, but my favorite is the feed at What the HashTag?!.) Following the Twitter activity from CIL has been an interesting, close-to-real-time exercise. It was informative and down right fun to watch, for example, the tweets that were rolling during a session on transliteracy by Bobby Newman, Matt Hamilton, and Buffy Hamilton. You could sense the connection being made between the session’s audience and the presenters.
  3. USTREAM Computers in Libraries Channel – Live streaming (complete with live chat) of the 3 keynote addresses as well as Michael Edson’s Tuesday morning session “Strategic Planning & Encouraging Change” at 10:30am. Thanks to the live streaming, I was able to watch Lee Rainie, director of Pew Internet & American Life Project, give the opening keynote address on Monday. I always enjoying hearing him speak. (Thanks to David Lee King for operating the live stream!) The next keynote is Tuesday (that’s this morning!) at 9:00am if you’re interested. If you miss the live streams, no worries. The videos are archived at USTREAM for later viewing.
  4. SlideShare – Here you will find session slideshows uploaded by session speakers. Only a few slideshows are currently available, but over time, I expect the number to grow.
  5. Blogs – Quite a number of librarians in attendance at CIL2010 are blogging from the conference. I already follow many of these blogs with Google Reader, but CIL has also created a handy-dandy list of Bloggers@CIL2010 which has proven useful as well. The nice thing about blog posts is that they can be read over time.
  6. Delicious – A number of folks are bookmarking links to web resources mentioned at CIL2010. This allows for some interesting browsing.

So there you have it. Yesterday I began immersing myself as much as possible in “virtual conference attendance”–something that will continue for the next couple of days and beyond. This is my first foray into this type of exercise, and yesterday’s experience went well. While it is not quite the same as being there, I look forward to the rest of my online monitoring of CIL2010.

Barring any major setbacks, I hope to be able to make the physical trip to CIL2011 in about 12 months. In the meantime, allow me to offer a heart-felt thanks to all those who have contributed to making as much of the CIL2010 experience available online for those of us unable to be there. Conference planners, presenters, and attendees who are collectively posting, tweeting, streaming, and blogging–thank you all!

Pic credit: NASA via WikiMedia



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Where There’s a Conference, There’s a Way

March 18, 2010 2 comments

In my previous post I wrote about the value of professional conferences and some of the challenges that can hold us back from attending. Two common obstacles (real or perceived) are lack of funding and an inability to be away from the office for so long.

Let’s face it. When times are economically tough, we look for ways to cut spending. And one of the first budget areas to often see the axe swing is professional development/travel. This really can be a legitimate show-stopper for professional conference attendance. And then there is the struggle of being away from the post for an extended period of time. Sure, the conference would be great, but things would be in utter turmoil by the time you got back–so much so that any benefit derived from the conference would quickly be lost by the need to focus all attention on catching up, extinguishing fires, and cleaning up messes that ran rampant in your absence. Been there? To those who can testify but wish it were not the case, consider the following suggestions.

1. Explore alternate funding sources and discounts.

Professional organizations (library associations, regional networks, etc.), vendors, conferences themselves, and other sources often provide scholarships, awards, and grants for conference attendance. If you or your library is a member of a library association (i.e. ALA, state library association), regional network (i.e. Lyrasis), etc., check to see if they offer discounts on attendance at certain conferences. Most do. lists some good examples of conference funding possibilities. Carefully check conference and organizational websites. Contact the conference organizers or professional organizations to see what offers might be available.

2.Find a partner to share the costs.

Ever split a meal with someone at an incredible but pricey restaurant? It can make for a memorable experience that is easy on the wallet when you can pull it off. The same principle can apply for conference attendance. Sometimes this can be the tipping point that makes a conference affordable. Do you know a professional colleague who plans to attend, or is at least contemplating, a conference that you are considering? [A colleague–also located in the southeast–and I have thrown around the idea of joining forces (and cash) for a pilgrimage to the SXSW Conference next year.] If you do know someone, why not share the travel and/or lodging expenses? Who knows, maybe you could even split a meal or two.

3. Go local.

Maybe the national conferences are simply too far away to even consider. Are there any local conferences available to you? A state library association conference? A local library-related consortium/group? Even one-day workshops, seminars, etc.–while not the same as a conference–can also be professionally beneficial. And they can do so without straining the budget or pulling you from the office for an extended period of time like a week-long conference. At the end of the day, local professional development opportunities can be just as engaging and worthwhile as the largest of the national events. To quote from an October 2007 post by Debbie Baaske (North Suburban Library System), “Don’t forget about your local conferences/symposiums. Sometimes the best ideas come from your neighbors just down the street.” So true.

4. Can’t travel? Consider virtual attendance/participation.

When travel/accommodation costs and being away are simply out of the question, there still are ways to “participate” in conferences. It’s like I tell students in library instruction sessions: Just because an item is not available in our building, don’t automatically assume you can’t use it. There are ways of bringing stuff from other places to where you are.

More and more, conferences are pushing content from the event through interaction with a conference website and today’s online communication channels. Slides, handouts, video, and audio from presentations are often posted for easy access from the internet. Sometimes a session is even streamed live online. Conversations can be tracked in close to real-time speed on microblogging services like Twitter or instant messaging services. Activities can be followed on a conference Facebook fan page. Photos from the event might appear on Flickr. The online sharing of a conference experience seems to become richer and more creative each year. Some conferences are even held online or “virtually” in their entirety through the use of web conferencing software.  There is no real substitute for being there, but following the activities of a conference online can be the next best thing.


So take a little time to identify those professional conferences of the greatest value to your job, consider your options, give it a shot, and reap the benefits of professional development and peer interaction. Let’s go conferencing!



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The Benefit of Professional Conferences

March 16, 2010 Comments off

Registrations. Travel plans. Hotel rooms. Name badges. Informational packets. Learning sessions. Vendor booths. Vendor goodies. Meals and camaraderie with professional peers. Sound familiar?

Professional conferences. Carefully planned professional development events (and, sometimes, the stuff of legend).

Some folks are the ultimate conference attenders. Let’s call them the “ultimate” class. If there is a professional conference being held in their field, you can count on them being there. (Counted here would be those regularly invited to present at conferences.) On the other end of the spectrum, there are those who never attend professional conferences or, if they do, it is a rare sighting. The “rare” class. And somewhere in between are those we might class as “moderate” or “middle-of-the-road” conference attenders. They attend their share of conferences, but not at the same level as the “ultimate” class. Perhaps they attend a conference every other year, or they have their one or two favorites that they attend regularly. (For the record, I fall into this camp.)

For those who find themselves in the class of “rare” conference attenders–particularly those who never attend conferences, I realize there are a variety of reasons why this is so. Three reasons often at the top of the list are: (1) I don’t have the money, (2) I can’t afford to be away from “the post,” and (3) I just don’t see the benefit. A lack of funds or the genuine inability to be away from the workplace for an extended period of time (i.e. one-person libraries) can be very legitimate reasons. (I, myself, needed to sacrifice–due to budget cuts–going to a conference this year that I immensely enjoy and have attended for the past three years.) And then there’s the third group.

If you are one of those that just can’t see the real benefit of attending a professional conference, I can appreciate where you are. I, too, used to wonder about the advantage of trekking off to a multi-day conference. Over time, however, I discovered their value by simply diving into the experience. For me, it was a simple need for hands-on education.

There are countless other librarians who would be much better ambassadors for professional conference attendance than me. I don’t burn the circuit by any means. Nevertheless, may I offer a few observations from my own experience? I believe there is much to be gained from attending conferences. I have been to enough to realize the benefits. At conferences you can:

  • Learn from others in your profession–and perhaps in your particular area of expertise (What works? What doesn’t work? This is real, practical professional development in action.)
  • Share with others your thoughts, experiences, etc. (Conferences are not just for taking. They are also excellent opportunities for giving.)
  • Take a break from the daily routine and tasks which can be refreshing and re-energizing (It is simply amazing how much a handful of days focused on your profession yet removed from the daily grind and countless interruptions of the job can encourage and invigorate your calling to the profession.)
  • Have a real opportunity to step back and reflect on your job and the bigger picture of your profession (Sometimes it’s hard to see the forest for the trees. Conferences allow you to pull away from the daily mechanics and be more philosophic about your job, your profession.)
  • Network, network, network (I would argue that one of the greatest benefits of conference attendance is simply meeting other folks who do what you do.)

I would love to hear from those out there who count themselves as seasoned conference attenders. You know who you are. What else might you add to the list to encourage our fellow professionals to at least consider attending professional conferences?

For those who would like to attend a professional conference but count themselves among those who struggle with the cost or the ability to get away from the office, there is hope. Yes, there are creative ways to address these concerns and perhaps benefit from time spent with your professional peers. This will be the topic of my next post. Be sure to check back.

One final word. I had librarians in mind as I was writing this. However, my comments hold true for anyone in any professional circle. So let me encourage you–if you have never attended a professional conference, give it a shot if at all possible. You might discover ways to grow professionally. Perhaps you will return to your job with a renewed spirit. And, who knows, you may find that you simply enjoy it.



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