Deborah Tritt and I submitted a proposal for the 2013 North Carolina Library Association Conference. Titled “Out of the wilderness: The state library association’s role in continuing education access for rural academic librarians,” it was linked to our study on professional development engagement and access (authored along with Echo Leaver, Ph.D.).
We shared general information about the barriers librarians in rural areas face as they seek professional development opportunities (biggest issue: funding) and how this group generally accesses available continuing education offerings (most popular channel: online). Our data also showed that this group is pretty active in their state associations – almost half of the participant group shared that they were actively serving on committees at state or regional library association levels; additionally, over two-thirds of respondents also indicated that the ability to network was a factor in joining their state library associations (compared to 16% and 37%, for national library associations, respectively).
Considering that networking is a key component for building communities of practice – and understanding that, in general, membership in state library associations is more affordable – it becomes evident how being engaged in these organizations help keep librarians at smaller colleges/universities or in more sparsely populated areas abreast of standards of library standards of practice and policy.
If you are at a rural library, how do you keep up with continuing education or professional development? Does your state library association offer ongoing opportunities for continuing education? Are you able to take advantage of the offerings?