My school library is a 25-minute drive to the nearest public library. We are also 57 miles from the nearest metropolitan area. It is sometimes quite hard to get away for professional development when you are a rural librarian. As a school librarian in a rural setting, I store up as much continuing education as I can during the summer. Instead of “solo librarians” I guess we are “silo librarians.” I love to attend conferences, but that can be very expensive. I also do not have the advantage of being in a large district with district-wide continuing education systems. Therefore, I am always looking for PD connections in the form of webinars and online courses. I am happy to report the online offerings for school librarians are excellent right now.
AASL eCOLLAB Webinars and eAcademy Courses
This past November I joined the webinar “Virtual Learning Commons: Rethinking Your Library Website” with Heather Lister. This was an incredibly practical webinar in knowing the key areas to include on my school library web page. And since I prescribe to the Learning Commons philosophy, it was a perfect PD fit for me. For free on-demand webinars covering all types of professional topics try the archived AASL eCOLLAB webinars. The webinars have been free to AASL members and are affordable for non-members as well.
Another set of offerings from AASL are the eAcademy Courses. I am in the middle of Diana Rendina’s eAcademy Course “Making Your Library Epic: Creating Innovative Spaces for Student Learning.” This has been a very personal and practical online course looking at the library space. So, this course paired with the virtual learning commons webinar have helped to balance both the physical and virtual spaces that I manage.
SLJ and Other Online Professional Development
School Library Journal has a number of very interesting webcasts that are coming up very soon. The topics include books, professional development, maker spaces, augmented reality, and STEM. SLJ also archives the past webcasts in case you missed one. The Alumni at the UW-Madison School of Library and Information Studies offer an Alumni Webinar Series. And according to the website, they are FREE and all are welcome!
If you need a regular dose of PD or just professional connection you might turn to social media. If you have a Twitter account you might consider participating in one of the many Librarian Twitter Chats:
- #TLChat Teacher-Librarian Chat, Second Monday, 8-9 pm EST
- #MakerEd Maker Education Chat, Tuesdays, 6-7 pm EST
- #YALitChat Young Adult Literature Chat, Wednesdays, 9-10 pm EST
Finally, even if you are not available during the Twitter chats you can always look back on them using the hashtag.
— Hannah Byrd Little (@HannahLittle) October 26, 2016