I have always considered myself pretty proactive in the things I do for professional development.  However, I have discovered that this momentum is much easier to maintain in the context of current enrollment in an LIS program and working in a library.  By necessity, over the past few years I was constantly immersed in dialogue with co-workers and fellow students about issues in the field.  Now that dialogue is limited to my solo efforts at keeping up with writing/reading/continuing education.  It’s a bit lonely.

Part of my frustration is my desire to stay involved via conferences and committees tempered by the lack of opportunity here in New Mexico.  In Nebraska, I was able to be involved in the New Member’s Round Table of the state library association and an employer extremely supportive of conference attendance and other professional development.  The mini conference of the New Mexico Library Association is coming up next week, but I probably won’t be going for several reasons.  For one thing, I don’t have the vacation time, and, unlike at an academic library, can’t take administrative leave.  Also, I’m finding that conference attendance is much more expensive as a graduate than as a student.  As are most other things, including association memberships (*note to all LIS students: join all the associations you can at the student rate!).  There aren’t more than a couple of sessions that sound interesting to me, and I can’t justify the attendance fee.

So that leaves me looking at other upcoming conferences.  I was excited to see that ARLIS (Art Libraries Society of North America) is having their annual conference in Denver this year – a mere 6 hour drive.  But…attendance is $200.  Maybe I’ll go to MPLA again.  It would be a good chance to see my old colleagues and friends from Nebraska, though I was less than blown away by the sessions offered last year.

I guess this is all to highlight the difficulty of being active in the profession while working in a non-traditional setting.  Though our skills are becoming more and more applicable to other areas, it will be all too easy for the profession to become increasingly fragmented as those of us who are not currently working in libraries face the onus of staying involved while also staying busy and committed to full-time jobs.  Professionals are usually supported by institutions within the profession – as our profession becomes geared more towards “information management” than “librarianship” and we take jobs in areas as varied as publishing, medical records, museums, and instructional design, garnering institutional support becomes more of a challenge.

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