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As I face various impediments to my desire to stay involved the field and improve my own skills and knowledge, I am again recognizing the benefit of actually working in a library and the professional support that entails. I was always encouraged in my library jobs to take web tutorials, attend webinars, and read articles pertaining to library science. While I’m still encouraged to “read on the job” , this now covers the topics of art and art history (can’t really complain). I hardly ever have time to catch up on my backlog of library publications (which do not make for enticing reading on the bus after a long day of work).

Ditto the online learning opportunities. It’s not something I can pursue at work, and one of my budgeting sacrifices was to give up broadband at my house. Thus my freetime computing comes via wi-fi at coffeeshops. This gives me exactly 2 possible days a week for online professional development, and all too often webinars are live events that I can’t attend. But I should still try to pursue new alternatives, so I’ve been looking back over some of the best and most flexible options out there for professional development on my own time.

For one thing, just because I can’t attend every conference doesn’t mean I can’t get involved with the conference. More and more often the session notes and even full presentations are available for viewing on the conference websites. Some of my most useful resources are conference session handouts, even after the fact.

I went back and revisited the helpful links to “Free Library-related eLearning sites” on the Library 2.0 site. Here are some that I haven’t really pursued yet:

The Bibliographic Center for Research has “Free Friday Forums” on issues such as the Library of Congress collections, OCLC, FRBR, and RDA. These are archived, so I should be able to check them out.

The Library of Congress workshops seem moderately useful – there’s one on web design that could come in handy.

The Library of Congress Webcasts look a little more promising. I will definitely look at the one on bibliographic control.

I’m intrigued by the LISRadio site created by the School of Information Science at the University of Missouri, Columbia, which advertises “interactive webcasts”. There is also an archive. I’m particularly interested in the “On the job” series.

Some other options that I’ve already mentioned: OPAL, SirsiDynix Institute, and WebJunction.

I also looked into taking some classes via the Dona Ana Community College’s Library Science Program (certification, not Master’s degree), such as Advanced Cataloging. They are available online, and at $60 a credit hour are an affordable possibility. I think my skills are current enough right now, but the field is always shifting imperceptibly.

Those are the possibilities, now it’s really just a matter of budgeting the time.

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I just got back from a whirlwind conference day in lovely Las Cruces New Mexico. A day was all I could devote to conferencing, but I tried to make the most of it. It was also good to visit a new part of the state and see New Mexico State University and the impressive Zuhl Library.

Among programs on new technologies and the meaning of professionalism, I attended a very interesting session on the new Fine Arts Library at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. I haven’t yet had a chance to visit this building, but they have obviously done amazing things with their new space.

The presentation itself was entitled “Creativity All Around: and Within! The Fine Arts and Design Library at UNM” and featured 4 speakers who approached creativity in the Fine Arts library from different perspectives. The building project itself was discussed, along with the call to “claim your creativity” and step out of the librarian stereotype of being stuck in the dark ages (this seems to be more tangible lately with many exciting new “library as place” inspired building projects such as this and this and this).

Another presenter focused on the need to think outside the box in terms of collection development. They recently purchased a large video collection from a store going out of business down the street from the university. While this may fall under the radar of most collection development plans, it turned out to be an excellent way to fill in the gaps and make a stronger collection. It also turned out that the teaching faculty were extremely enthusiastic about the purchase (having informally used the store for years for teaching material), pointing out the need to get input from other constituents in the CD process.

The last two presentations were about instruction and reference in the Fine Arts library. The last presenter passed out handy bookmarks listing reliable online resources to use for those of us who don’t have access to comprehensive physical collections of fine art resources.

All in all, a good day…I really wish I had more time at the conference to network, however. It was great to finally meet some of the UNM art librarians, particularly Nina Stephenson. Her career path is an inspiration to me, though she commented on the dearth of art librarian jobs and the need to be in the right place at the right time. Easier said than done!