DIY Technology Professional Development

A version of what I am sharing with you this month was published on another blog (Informed Librarian Online). I imagine that many of you already know a lot of the information that I am sharing. However, I thought a few of you might still enjoy it. This month I am going to work on setting up a blog that will allow you to subscribe to a RSS feed for alerts about my posts here. I meant to do it this month and totally missed the mark! (I appreciate the request that I received to do so.) Next month I plan to resume identifying free professional development webinars.

Growing With Technology

Since 2008, the percentage of the United States population with social network profiles has grown from 24% to 73% (Statista, 2015b).  Globally, the number of worldwide social network users have increased from .97 billion in 2010 to 1.79 in 2014 (Statista, 2015a). Growth in technologies such as social media have dramatically impacted how libraries offer services. For example the Library of Congress has adapted its goal of preserving first person history by including archives of databases, servers, and clouds in its massive collection (Inayatullah, 2014). A recent report indicated that the growth of the Library of Congress is being outpaced by technology (McGlone, 2015). Therefore the LOC is currently developing an IT strategic plan.

The development of the IT strategic plan reveals the most revered library in the United States is not immune to the need to grow with technology. Yet depending on the creation of a plan will not solve the Library of Congress’ issue. There must be technologically literate librarians to implement the plan.

Thriving Is Better than Merely Surviving

No, I don’t know everything about technology. Who does? I do however acknowledge that I have to keep myself up to date on current trends and emerging tools. I know enough to thrive in my environment. I also understand that thriving instead of surviving within the continually changing influx of technology is essential for every information professional. This is something that I try to share with as many librarians as possible through classes and presentations. I believe this is especially important for school librarians because we are responsible for teaching our future leaders.

Where to Get Technology Professional Development

When I share different types of technology, one of the most frequent questions I get is, “How do you learn so much about technology?” My answer is that part of my professional development strategy includes face-to-face training sessions and conferences. Nonetheless, many of these events are not free and they are time consuming.

I am able to compensate because I am a voracious reader. I am always on a quest to learn more.  I like browsing directories of tools. Sometimes my search for information takes me to social network websites from other types of professionals such as teachers and marketing specialists. I find that the advantage of looking at websites from other professionals is one way that I can learn about technology from different perspectives. Therefore my resources vary in style and content. Even though I could never tell you about all of the websites that I have read. I will list a few below.

A Technology Professional Development List

180 Technology Tips:

  • The name of this website explains its purpose. Readers are offered 180 tips for using technology. Each tip is clearly numbered allowing readers to track their progress. The lessons are designed to take 5 minutes each.

American Association of School Librarians (AASL) Best Websites for Teaching and Learning:

  • This website is a logical place to start when it comes to identifying technology tools that are just right for school libraries. If you haven’t been here yet, get there as soon as possible to explore website descriptions, tips for using them, and the AASL standards that each website addresses.

Association for Library Collections and Technical Services (ALCTS) Webinars:

  • The ALCTS focuses on collection development, the preservation of library materials, and technical services. Free archived webinars are offered to address technical issues including MOOCS and digital preservation.

Centre for Learning and Performance Technologies (C4LPT):

  • C4LPT shares information about new technology tools and trends. Over 2,000 tools that can be browsed via a directory are divided into 13 categories.

Code Academy:

  • Code academy allows users to learn to code by using their interactive website. You can learn HTML, CSS, Javascript, jQuery, Python, Ruby, and PHP.


  • Edsurge contains a variety of articles and guides about technology. One of the true treasures of the site is the Edtech Index. With over 1000 tools to browse, you are sure to find something applicable to your library.


  • I am sure you know about this. Nonetheless I have listed it just in case you missed it. Richard Byrne uses his website to bring news about new developments in educational technology to the masses. You will find free video tutorials interspersed with the content of this massive website.

Goodwill Community Foundation:

  • Goodwill has graciously designed this website to introduce technology through 125 tutorials that encompass over 1,000 lessons, videos, and interactive materials.


  • Go to Hootsuite to learn how you can make the internet work for you. HootSuite is an excellent way to monitor social media. While you can perform tasks such as scheduling tweets and emails, HootSuite will also search your favorite social networking sites using keyword searches. You can peruse the results at your convenience. Free and paid analytical reports are offered.

If This Then That (IFTTT):

  • Your wish is IFTTT’s command. This website uses your specifications to search the internet and gives you options to receive alerts in a variety of ways such as emails and populated Google spreadsheets.

Khan Academy

  • The mission of Khan Academy is to provide free education for anyone regardless of where they are. The website boasts over 2400 videos. Quench your computer programming curiosity with learning materials featuring animation and more.

Library 2.0:

  • With a network of over 20,000 members Library 2.0 offers free conferences and webinars throughout the year to help librarians learn about technology tools, technology issues and trends. Presentations are archived.

Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) WebJunction:

  • Designed for public libraries, yet relevant to all information organizations, the OCLC WebJunction provides an online resource that focuses on technology, management and, library services. A variety of technology topics from computer basics to website design are addressed with webinars and supporting documents.

Online Tech Tips:

  • Stop by this website to get daily computer tutorials and technology news. Do you need a solution to a computer problem? Search this website for an answer.


  • Setting up a Scoop.It account with keywords that appeal to your professional development needs will give you daily updates on information posted to the web about your interests.

Social Fresh:

  • This website is all about social media education. Readers can subscribe to podcasts shared in iTunes.

Social Media Today:

  • The mission of this website is to encourage conversation about social media. Webinars are frequently offered. If you miss one, you can listen to the recordings and view the slides.

Tech Soup:

  • Tech Soup is a nonprofit that focusses on connecting libraries with technology products and services. Articles and how-to’s for implementing technology can be browsed by categories that include website management, fundraising, and operating systems.

TL Virtual Café:

  • This learning community is dedicated to promoting dialogue about educational technology, collaboration, and teacher librarians. Although the website is not exclusively about technology, there are plenty of articles available to provide ideas about using technology in your community. Join the monthly webinar or watch the archives.

Twitter Hashtags and Handles

Here is a sample of hashtags about technology and handles for people and organizations that tweet about technology that you might be interested in following.

  • Social media hashtag- #socialmedia
  • Educational technology hashtag – #edtech
  • Teacher Librarian Chat hashtag – #TLChat
  • Joyce Valenza handle- @joycevalenza
  • ALA TechSource handle – @ALA_TechSource
  • Lance Ulanoff handle – @lanceulanoff
  • EdTech K-12 Magazine handle – @EdTech_K12
  • Social Media Today handle – @socialmedia2day

Closing Tips

As you can see, there are a variety of resources available online to keep you abreast of emerging technology and trends. Many of the websites that I listed offer daily updates. Consider subscribing to their RSS feeds and newsletters to receive updates in your email. Creating filters in your mailbox will keep it organized. Another strategy is to set up a “Newsletter” email address to avoid inundating your work address with a constant flow of messages. When you find websites that you like, save them in lists. PearlTrees ( and Diigo ( offer a free options for creating lists online.

Despite listing a number of websites for you to review, I have saved the two most important tips for last. Here they are. Don’t be afraid to fail. You have to explore technology to determine the best options for you. Sometimes this means you will make a mistake or will not get good results. Just start small and be persistent.

Next, the most effective way to learn about technology is to interact with other people. I am constantly learning about technology from people in different settings and age groups. Yes, I have learned a lot from children.

Connect with someone who is like-minded and converse about their failures and success stories. Anyone who uses technology has them. Talking about them helps us to learn.  Regardless of the strategy that you decide to use, staying informed about technology trends is an essential component of nurturing your career, offering the best services to your school community, and preserving the future of libraries.


Inayatullah, S. (2014). Library futures: From knowledge keepers to creators. The Futurist, 48(6), 24-28.

McGlone, P. (2015). America’s ‘national library’ is lacking in leadership, yet another report finds. Retrieved from

Statista. (2015a). Number of social network users worldwide from 2010 to 2018 (in billions).

Statista. (2015b). Percentage of U.S. population with a social network profile from 2008 to 2015. Retrieved from



Author: Daniella Smith

Daniella Smith, PhD. is a former school and public librarian. She is currently the Hazel Harvey Peace Professor in Children’s Library Services at the University of North Texas.

Categories: Blog Topics, Professional Development

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