Wednesday 28 March 2012

Professional Development on Your Time & Dime: Free (or almost free!) Online PD

I have to admit that I like being a student. Unlike some librarians I know, I enjoyed doing my graduate work in library science. In fact, I’ll just come out and say it: I loved library school!

Photo CC by msulibrary1
This means that, to me, professional development isn’t a chore. It’s an opportunity to learn and an opportunity to socialise. Luckily, there are tons of PD opportunities; everything from face-to-face, hang-out-afterward-and-meet-new-library-professionals (just like ALIA Sydney’s upcoming event,  Innovations in the library and beyond) to a long list of online PD resources.

And, because I like learning, I try to stay current in library trends and I’m constantly looking for resources that can help me learn something new. For free. On my own time. While lounging on the balcony on a sunny Sydney Sunday.

To the end, I’ve put together a list of Free (or almost free) Online Professional Development Resources. Some of them are from the major library associations, some are from smaller library organisations, some are a bit off the beaten path, and some are just lists from other sources.

I’ve sourced them from my own research but I’ve also relied heavily on my Twitter friends and on my colleagues from the ili-i listserv (the ALA’s Information Literacy Instruction listserv). So most of these are resources that your fellow library colleagues are using!

So please, have a look, click around, and give them a try! This short list is by no means exhaustive (I prefer things that I or other people like), so if I’m missing a resource that you love—or something you use all the time—please add it in the comment section!

The Majors

No matter what your personal opinion is regarding the American Library Association, you have to admit that they’ve put together an impressive array of live webinars, on-demand webcasts, and online courses. At prices ranging from free to $28 USD, that’s a bargain! And they cover everything from collection management and service delivery, to a host of offerings from individual ALA Units (think school libraries, public libraries, IT, diversity, etc.). If you haven’t had a look in a while, give it another shot!

While ALIA does provide some top-quality professional development training, they tend to be more along the lines of continuing education—in terms of both cost ($100-$400) and duration (up to 6 weeks). If you’re looking for some quick PD resources, try their PD Postings (only select availability if you aren’t an ALIA member). Each month, PD Posting provides a two-page spread of what you should be learning that month—from webinars to readings to short-term learning projects. If you’re really keen, join their PD Scheme and gain Certified Practitioner status.

If you haven’t been paying attention to WebJunction, you should be! An online learning community for library staff, WebJunction provides a host of professional development opportunities for library staff, including free live and recorded webinars, subject-based skill development (through documents, news and related links), and, if you’re lucky enough to be from a partner State Library organisation (in the US), over 350 self-paced courses. Need to upskill with little money, time or fuss? Definitely start your PD search here.

The Minors

By minor, I don’t mean unimportant, as Ref Ex clearly demonstrates. Recommended by a Twitter and ALIA colleague @VaVeros, Ref Ex provides self-paced training to improve reference and information services skills. It’s great if you’re new to reference work (hello reference desk!) or you just need a quick refresher.

While many library schools around the world have some great PD resources, I have to hand it to Simmons for their quality over quantity. While their resources are pricey (up to $300), it’s more continuing education than simple PD, as there are several self-paced, 6-week workshops. However, the presenters are experienced, well-known American instructors (LJ Movers & Shakers!). I’m really itching to set aside 6 weeks to do the Instruction Librarian Boot Camp, or maybe the Developing Content for Online Learning course. I also stumbled upon their How-to Guides, and I have to say, if you have a burning question about something techy in your office, have a look. From RSS feeds to basic HTML or from XML to MS Office, Simmons provides some easy and fun little guides.

Brought to you by the “trusted experts at the American Library Association,” Booklist Online provides free webinars about upcoming books across the literary spectrum. Normally hosted by a Booklist editor, the presenters are from the publishing industry. If you are in collection development—or in reader’s advisory—these will keep you updated on the newest book offerings! Have a look at their extensive Webinar Archive.

The List Makers

Another great recommendation from an ili-i colleague, life-long learner Margaret Driscoll provides the PD list to end all lists! Flip through this blog with a seemingly endless list of PD resources for library professionals from a variety of organisations, in a variety of formats. Some are free webinars, others are $50 online workshops and a few are $100+ online courses. You’ll want to bookmark or RSS this one to keep up to date on upcoming low-cost PD.

While this blog entry is a bit old, the podcasts and audio shows he mentions are worthwhile to check out. King is the Digital Branch & Services Manager of Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library—and is well-known in library social media circles!

And a bit off the beaten path

This is my current favourite source for “knowledge creation and dissemination in the digital age.” While not directed solely towards library professionals (it’s part of the Harvard Law School), the videos and podcasts feature top-notch researchers who explore online topics that are very important to libraries. I thoroughly enjoyed "Quality Control," a podcast discussing recent research into how young people can find truth amidst online garbage, about finding and evaluating quality information online.

An amazing free resource recommended by an ili-i library colleague, Mantra is a self-paced course on research data management. Although created for postgraduate students and early career researchers, library staff in research settings will find it an invaluable resource for managing data in the social sciences.

This ALA provides some exciting live and recorded webinars for professionals in the Adult and Community Education fields. Although not targeted towards librarians, this is a personal favourite because it targets the communities I serve as a User Education Librarian. With a focus on how to teach and engage with adult learners, ALA highlights some top-notch adult educators with innovative teaching strategies.

- Jeff
Jeff Cruz
Events Officer, ALIA Sydney Committee
Follow me on Twitter at @jncruz

Disclaimer: All of the information and views expressed are solely my own, and do not reflect those of my employer or any other organisation.

Saturday 17 March 2012

Contribute to research: tell us what you think about ALIA Sydney

Kate Byrne, Acting Outreach Team Leader from UNSW Library and former convenor of ALIA Sydney, is undertaking research into professional development in the library and information industry by exploring the impact of ALIA Sydney’s activities.

This project aims to investigate successful strategies for building strong professional development communities within the library and information industry. A case study will be made of ALIA Sydney, the local group for the Australian Library and Information Association. The case study will explore the effectiveness of the strategies employed by ALIA Sydney to create and support a vibrant community of reflective practice and a culture of active professional development and the project will juxtapose these experiences with existing literature on professional development cultures and models of communities of practice.

This research is to be presented at the upcoming ALIA Biennial Conference and the results of the survey will also be used to improve ALIA Sydney. 

 She is seeking participants who both have and have not attended ALIA Sydney events throughout 2011 for a survey exploring these issues to complete the survey by Friday 30th March 2012. 

If you are interested in participating and have ten minutes to spare please visit to access the participant information statement and the survey or contact kate.byrne[at] if you have any questions. 

Thursday 15 March 2012

Sophie is excited about ALIA Sydney in 2012

Hi there, this is Sophie and I work at UTS Library in the Information Services Department dealing with information literacy, reference help and faculty liaison among other things. This is my second year on the ALIA Sydney committee. I joined last year because I feel passionate about the profession and passionate about sharing my passion with others! Yes, I'm a lover not a hater. I think professional development is the key to our profession moving forward and being a member of the ALIA Sydney committee seemed a way to get involved and make a difference. Well, in retrospect it certainly has but being on the committee has also had unexpected benefits. I've gotten to know and work with amazing like minded people on the committee, I've met and heard from expert speakers at our events and I've met many fantastic people who've come along to participate.

The events we've held have all been a different style and that's also been a learning experience for the committee, speakers and participants. In particular last year we held our first 20x20 pecha kucha style event where speakers have 20 slides with 20 seconds per slide totaling just over 6 mins! It was such an exciting event. I can't wait for our next one which is coming up in 2 weeks on 29 March at Waverley Library!

Last year I really enjoyed working with a great bunch of people on the committee and luckily a few of them have hung around again this year. But I'm also really excited to get to know the new gang of committee members who've come on board with fresh ideas and enthusiasm. It's great. So that's why I joined up for a second year. The first one was so great and went by so quickly that I wanted another go at it! I hope to see you at some of our events this year! Come and say hi *waves*!

Tuesday 6 March 2012

March event: Innovations in the Library and beyond...

Hi all,
Heather here. I am a newer member of the ALIA Sydney group and am working as a coordinator of events. I work at Waverley Library as the Manager, Library Operations. I didn’t feel I had enough to do in this job, so I applied to join the ALIA Sydney Group. Not really, I joined up because as a relatively new manager, I am really interested in professional development and keeping my teams up to speed and passionate about what they do. I thought it would be a great opportunity for me to get creative, hone my event management skills, and join a network of similarly passionate professionals.

I’m working on my first event as we speak and we’re at the stage of starting to promote it, which I will take this opportunity to do now:

ALIA Sydney Presents: 20x20: Innovations in the library and beyond…
Our relationships with information are changing, as are the way we use information repositories such as libraries and museums. Come alongto hear an inspiring selection of speakers  tell us about the innovative projects they have worked on to present information and services in new and creative ways.

Our cutting edge list of guest speakers will be presenting in the innovative 20x20 presentation format, and include:

Jemima McDonald from UTS
Michael Gonzales from UWS
Karina Libbey from the Festivalists (responsible for the Jurassic Lounge at the Australian Museum)
Estee Wah from the Power House Museum
Hugh Nichols from City of Sydney Libraries
Maureen Kattau and Fiona Burton from Macquarie University
Shaun O’Dwyer and Kylie Bailin from UNSW

Date: Thursday 29th March
Time: 6pm (for a 6:30pm start) – 8:30pm
Venue: Waverley Library
32-48 Denison St
Bondi Junction

View Larger Map Getting there:
A short walk from Bondi Junction station (on Eastern Suburbs line), head towards the City along Oxford St and turn left on to Denison St
Parking is available beneath the library via Ebley St, free for the first 1.5 hours.
Cost: $10 for members, $13.50 for non members
RSVP: please register your attendance by RSVPing to

It seems like we have timed this event well, considering our promotions are to begin at the same time that the State Librarian, Dr Alex Byrne, appears on page two of the SMH discussing the changing nature of Libraries. The article says
“In navigating the complex new world of information overload, people don't just read books any more. They interact with information, and with each other to make sense of it.”

I see this at Waverley Library as I note the shift from our study rooms being places where you can make a bit of noise and the much bigger public study room being used for quiet study, to the opposite, with customers booking the study rooms to get away from the din. We also do an HSC ‘Late shift lock in’ each year where students studying for the HSC stay back after closing to do an intense study session, with speakers and study guides. From many accounts on our feedback survey, the noise is amazing! The students are not necessarily complaining though, they are saying that they found the night an exciting and fun way to learn together.

I’ve also been in the position of having to explain to some customers that total silence is not something we ‘enforce’ (which was the customer’s words) and recommended instead the quieter times during the day that the customer might come in, for example definitely not on a story time morning!

I’m very excited to be on board at such a time of transformation and innovation and look forward to the challenge of bringing the customers with old school ideas about the library and librarians along for the ride!


Monday 5 March 2012

Think Big Act Small- wrap up #2

As promised, here's a list of all of the great ideas that came about at last week's Think Big, Act Small sustainability event. (You can read the first wrap up summary post here.)

Also, Sonja from the ALIA Sustainable Libraries Group has uploaded some great notes form the evening on their Facebook page.
We broke up into groups and brainstormed some big ideas (with no barriers) and some small ideas related to sustainability.

We're so pleased to be blogging all of these wonderful ideas that came out of the brainstorming activity, we hope that you get some great ideas to take back to your own workplaces and communities. And please keep the discussion and ideas flowing via the comments thread or via Twitter, using the #aliasydgreen hashtag! We're keen to hear all about the projects you initiate as a result.

Please note: we have transcribed all of the brainstormed ideas as we could make out from the butchers paper brainstorms we collected on the night- if you're reading this, and we haven't got your idea quite right, or you'd like to clarify something, please feel free to comment in the comments thread below.

Big ideas
  • subsidised bike scheme
  • banning bottled water sales
  • new computers
  • energy efficient equipment 
  • sustainability commitments from all staff
  • life cycle assessment for technology
  • creating a 'green librarian' (in a similar vein to the 'Green Ninja' that Kristen Woodward of City of Sydney Council created- see our first wrap up post)
  • gamification app for sustainability- eg create an app that awards points for each sustainable task you complete 
  • create an app that aggregates local information about sustainability eg the dates for council white goods pick up days etc
  • build a new sustainable library 
  • solar powered computers
  • organic biodome/roof/wall/garden (use books as mulch)
  • have NO library (have an integrated library where: everyone works form home, it's digital only, collaborative spaces or roving librarians
  • motion sensors on everything
  • culture change- retrain your brain!
  • re-purpose everything
  • redesigning spaces- buildings eg air conditioning, light- more natural light, air-flow, solar energy, ventilation)
  • EMS- environmental management systems
  • making buildings smaller> smaller footprint
  • update resources to more efficient resources eg computers 
  • gardens on every single library building roof

Small ideas
  • worm farms 
  • workplace composting
  • flexible work spaces 
  • flexible work hours
  • patching for computers that turn computers on as required (as opposed to leaving computers on overnight all the time)
  • ecoboxes (see the initiatives Mal Booth implemented at UTS library in the first wrap up post.)
  • increase knowledge of technology to improve future purchasing models
  • creating a food co-op with co-workers
  • think about the food life cycle (carbon footprint, food mileage etc)
  • recycling bins only at desks
  • reuse/recycle weeded books/serials
  • use recycled paper
  • double-sided paper as a default setting
  • awareness- raising of costs of printing- competition
  • no more handouts in IL classes
  • auto shutdown mechanism/reminder on public and staff computers
  • buy Keep cups/take away containers for staff as part of staff induction
  • re-write procedures with sustainability in mind
  • limit waste and stuff (financial savings and waste saving)
  • keep your crap initiative (see UTS initiative) - keep rubbish and packaging so you can see it
  • flick the switch stickers
  • hold sustainable activities with the community (sharing information and linking people)
  • sharing information- collaboration and group work to make sustainable decisions
  • electronic usage- go paperless, energy awareness
  • using energy efficiently eg standby mode
  • online paper submission
- ALIA Sydney Committee

Saturday 3 March 2012

Report on the Millennials

'Student in the library, 1981'  from LSE Library via Flickr

This week the Pew Internet Project released, Millennials Will Benefit and Suffer Due to Their Hyperconnected Lives, (PDF) a study which asked technology experts and industry stakeholders to reflect on whether the ‘younger generation’s always-on connection to people and information will turn out to be a net positive or a net negative by 2020’  (p2). 

The results were split almost down the middle, with 55% agreeing that the brains of these serial multitasking young people will be positively impacted by their connectivity and 42% finding that the brains of these young people could be negatively impacted by their lifestyle (p2). The report makes for interesting reading, with expert thoughts on instant gratification, digital literacies, deep thought and how the next generation will consume information. 

Also available are the credited responses to the survey, responses from those participants who chose to identify themselves and what their position is. Below are some reflections from library industry professionals who took part in the survey:

Helpful results can emerge from young people's future multitasking and technological abilities, but in order to prevent the negative effects, there must be a concerted focus on providing information literacy training at early ages. In middle school, we must ensure students learn how search engines work, why results are presented the way they are; they must learn the nature of Wikipedia, how its rules are determined, how entries are formed; they must learn why Facebook collects the data it does, its business model, etc. —Michael Zimmer, assistant professor in the school of information studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

 I witness a tendency toward more collaborative, group-oriented learning and perhaps a preference for synthesis rather than analysis, which might be a more appropriate way to deal cognitively with a global, interconnected world than with an analytical model that deconstructs meaning and knowledge. It’s important to recognize some changes in cognitive styles and to find ways to engage those, rather than bemoaning a decline in intellectual abilities. —Emily Rogers, university reference and instruction librarian, based in Valdosta, Georgia

Society has changed in vast ways before (the printing press, the car, the telephone, the airplane, the Internet). Change naturally brings about scepticism and fear for some who have lived through different ways of life that are quickly changing. Youth tend to adapt more quickly to these changes (though not always), and in the end most changes have both good and bad components to them (the car brought wide mobility but negatively impacted the environment). Most broad societal changes are indifferent and can be used in either positive or negative ways; I think the past indicates a primarily positive picture and thus think that the Net gain will be positive. Plus, this overall change may not be as far-reaching as we think; many developing countries still don’t have resources that would make for such multitasking skills and thus large populations may remain unaffected even by 2020. —Starr Hoffman, librarian for digital collections for the University of North Texas; based in Frisco, Texas

Many fields have long been helped by collective intelligence (i.e., doctors consulting each other on hard cases), and broadening that out to all fields via the Internet and better collaborative technologies can only be a boon. —Sarah Vital, reference and instruction librarian at Saint Mary's College of California; based in the San Francisco Bay area, California

 I take an optimistic view that is predicated on our being able to understand and support varying and emerging forms of digital literacy. —Robert Renaud, vice president for library and information services and CIO at Dickinson College; member, EDUCAUSE Advanced Core Technologies Initiative Design Group; based in Carlisle, Pennsylvania

So what does all of this mean for the library profession? How can we meet the needs of the hyper connected generation? How will it change the way we present our services and collections both online and in real life? Or will it change at all? Plus, how will these possible scenarios impact the next generation of librarians coming into the profession? 2020 is only 8 years away, so if even a few of these predictions come to fruition, is your organisation going to still be relevant to the incoming millennials?

A special thank you to Lyn Hay for alerting me to this report. You can follow Lyn on Twitter @lyn_hay and follow her blog Students Learn Through School Libraries

(Amy is currently an LIS student and works in a school library she can be followed on Twitter @unlikelylibrary) 

Thursday 1 March 2012

Think Big Act Small- wrap up

Wow! What an amazing first event for 2012!
We had three fantastic speakers, who gave us their perspectives on what their organisations are doing to be sustainable and think green. 

First, Kirsten Woodward who is the Manager of Environmental Projects and the Head of Green Champions from the City of Sydney talked about some of the initiatives that the City of Sydney council are doing. One of the great things she’s done is create the Green Champions, a group of City of Sydney employees who undertook a program to equip them to go out and talk to the other people in their work areas about environmental and sustainability issues. Another great initiative is the creation of a character called the Green Ninja, who dresses up in a suit made of bright green, completely recycled City of Sydney banners, and who makes the odd sting on City of Sydney offices and leaves chocolates (Faire Trade of course!) for people who have turned their computers off for the evening, as well as popping a sign on their computer with a thumbs up or thumbs down (depending on if you turned your computer off or left it on!)

Peter Vun, who is the Sustainability Planner from Ku-ring-gai Council has also created a similar initiative, this time with someone dressed up as... Energy Man!

Energy Man was on hand to support another initiative which was based on the Biggest Loser (where departments were challenged to save energy at home, with a weekly ‘weigh in’ where kilowatts were counted instead of kilograms.)

The other really cool idea I gleaned from Peter was the idea of Lego Serious Play, where people in workshops played with the Lego, and built Lego creations of what sustainability really meant to them, and what it meant as a shared vision across the council.  This was a great success, and allowed people who were the quiet reflectors (and I reckon the kinesthetic learners) to really engage with the issues. This idea of using stuff to create meaning really resonates with me. As a qualified teacher, I’m always mindful of the different ways people learn and think (Blooms Taxonomy or Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences anybody?)

Lastly Mal Booth, who is the Acting University Librarian at UTS Library gave us an insight into the planning processes involved in building a brand new sustainable library from the ground up. Wow. I am so jealous! The sustainable ethos (that is, being socially responsible and innovative) that is going into every planning step is incredible. Another idea which I found interesting was the comment Mal made about noise cancelling as a sustainable idea- I’d never thought of that in the sustainability and design context, but I imagine it could relate to how noise levels (and noise pollution) can be modified to create more sustainable, user friendly environments . Certainly in the natural world, noise pollution has a significant impact on the sustainability of animal populations (too much noise and the animals will move out, which also relates to the urbanisation of land).

I was also intrigued by the process of using creative thought and co-design to make strategic decisions and to guide initiatives. My understanding of this in , is that it relates to collaborating and forming connections with people completely outside of the library, who are already doing some amazing things in the field and bringing ideas and initiatives to fruition. I’d love to know more about this. 

The 3 staff initiatives that Mal mentioned that were really great take-home ideas that would be relatively easy to implement were as follows:
Keep ya crap- a competition amongst those involved to keep all unnatural
rubbish that they accumulate in a week on their desks in a bag, to be
tallied up at the end of the week. The next week’s goal is to improve on
last week’s tally by decreasing the amount of rubbish.
Lug a Mug- encouraging people to bring their Keep Cups or HookTurn
reusable coffee cups (Mal also negotiated a discount for people who bought
coffees using the reusable cups from the Union coffee shop at UTS)
Ecoboxes- containers of various sizes are kept in all of the staff tea
areas, so when staff go to buy lunch, they can take a box and ask for their
food to be put in there.

So the lessons I learned from our three guest speakers were that the best way of getting the sustainability message out these is to have champions, mixed with a dash of humour and fun (having a super hero or ninja also doesn’t hurt!) along with leading from the top, to get people talking and more aware of sustainability issues in the workplace.

After the guest speakers, we broke up into groups of 5-6 and brainstormed some ideas for sustainability in our workplaces, the brief being, that each group had to come up with some big ideas that were not limited by any barrier, and some smaller ideas that we could possibly bring back and try at our workplaces tomorrow. Another wow. All of our attendees participated with enthusiasm and fervour. It was incredible to watch. I only wish that we planned more time for this part of the evening.

I had many people come up to me and tell me what a great event it was, and how much they had enjoyed it. I think we all took something away from the evening. For me, not only was it the amazing ideas that came about, but it was also the pride that I felt when I saw just how passionate my fellow library and information professional colleagues are about sustainability. In keeping with the green theme of the evening, we encouraged people to bring their own reusable cup, ride their bikes, catch public transport or carpool to the library. I was so chuffed when I asked for a show of hands, and virtually EVERYBODY in the room raised their hand for at least one of these categories. Yay us!

The night really cemented the idea that  having these sorts of events work- even though I am already fairly cognisant of the small things I could be doing, I am guilty in not always doing them, therefore having the event in the forefront of my mind really made me aware of all of the things I could be doing eg making sure everything is switched off before I leave, thinking about whether I really need that bit of paper printed etc

As promised, I will be blogging all of the ideas that were brainstormed from the evening soon, in order to archive the incredible learning and knowledge that came about from the event, so keep posted, and be ready to continue the discussions online!

Many thanks to the University of Sydney Library for allowing us to host the event at Badham Library, and finally, a very BIG thank you to Sophie McDonald and Jeff Cruz for all of their hard work in organising this wonderful event.

In keeping with this, I thought I’d leave you with these three great videos that encourage people to take the bus, which were made for De Lijn, the Flemish company that runs public transport in Belgium. They're laugh out loud funny and remind me of the Road Runner cartoons we all grew up watching (but with an added sustainability message!)

- Crystal

Crystal Choi is Convenor of ALIA Sydney and a Faculty Liaison Librarian at the University of Sydney Library.
All thoughts expressed are my own.