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What to do in a global pandemic was not taught in library school!

“What to do in a global pandemic was not taught in library school!” is a refrain that I’ve heard over the past few weeks from multiple colleagues. While we’re trying to figure out the best responses to the Covid 19 Pandemic – from how to continue to serve patrons, to how to best sanitize materials – ALSC’s parent organization, the American Library Association (ALA), has come up with a Pandemic Preparedness Resource for Librarians that addresses all sorts of pressing and relevant topics. 

After the governor issued a shelter-in-place order for California earlier this month, my library system closed to the public. Fortunately, all non-essential staff are currently being allowed to work from home. Many of us now have the time to think outside of the box to provide new types of service and to expand electronic services that we already provide.

A few days into working from home, a colleague started a conversation over email asking the children’s librarians what tasks and projects we would be completing from home. Learning how to offer virtual storytimes and services rose to the top of the list for sure, but so did something else: taking advantage of the time to pursue professional development opportunities. This is right up my alley, as the continuous learning offered through professional development opportunities is one of my favorite aspects of our profession. Just last week, I took the opportunity to attend a timely webinar on creating a personal professional plan, hosted by the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries (ASERL), and signed up for a Microsoft Access course through LinkedIn Learning.

Fortunately, professional development opportunities abound for ALSC members. There are asynchronous online courses offered every winter, spring, summer, and fall, as well as free monthly live hour-long webinars and archived webinars (provided at no charge to ALSC members) available on the ALSC eLearning site. ALSC has also recently opened up additional member-driven content for access through April 20, 2020. As always, the ALSC channel on ALA Connect, is available for ongoing conversations between members.

In addition to opportunities for learning through ALSC, there’s also a host of other professional development opportunities offered through other ALA divisions. For example, I’m also a member of the Association for Library Collections and Technical Services (ALCTS) and am looking forward to taking an upcoming online ALCTS course in Collection Assessment next. 

Judging from my social media feeds, lots of library staffers are using our time away from the library to further our professional growth. A number of my colleagues are making time to finally dive into Project Ready: Reimagining Equity & Access for Diverse Youth created by staff and students at the University of North Carolina School of Information and Library Science and learn how to “Supercharge” their story times over at WebJunction. Because a number of professional journals and publications are making their publications free and available, now is a great time to catch up on professional reading.

Some of my colleagues are taking the time to learn how to play the ukulele or learn new storytime rhymes and songs. Others are becoming familiar with resources they haven’t explored before, such as podcasts for children, or are working on improving their skills in another language, such as Spanish or American Sign Language, or are honing their storytelling skills. 

What professional development opportunities are you pursuing right now?

Mahasin Abuwi Aleem is in her first year on ALSC’s Membership Committee. She’s the newly minted Children’s Collection Management Librarian for Oakland Public Library, at the Main Library, in Oakland, CA.

This post addresses the following ALSC Core Competencies: I. Commitment to Client Group, III. Programming Skills, and VII. Professionalism and Professional Development.


One comment

  1. Jo Schofield

    I’ve been doing a lot of advocacy webinars through ALSC, WebJunction, and EveryLibrary. Our role as advocates is going to be even more important once this crisis is over as we bring people back to the physical libraries and show our community leaders not only how we met the needs of the community during this time but also how we will continue to do it once we’re back in the buildings. Advocacy skills are also useful as we show our leaders and Boards all of the wonderful skill-building exercises we did while the physical building was closed!

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