by Sara Tompson
SLA needs to be growing and supporting continuously competent professionals. In a field that changes as rapidly as does ours – I know I am not the only one who originally learned to search online using BRS After Dark, a 300 baud acoustic coupler and thermal paper (!) – continuous learning is absolutely critical in order to survive and thrive and be of value to our organizations.
I have long seen competencies as a very useful framework for professional development, have written and spoken on this view, and have used SLA competencies in teaching LIS graduate students. Therefore I am pleased that SLA’s Professional Development Program is ranked fairly high in importance on the new Strategic Vision we all helped create. I would like to see competencies made even more explicit in the plan, though they are strongly implied therein.
The first order of business we’ve set for ourselves for 2012 includes defining and documenting a new strategic approach that integrates professional development opportunities throughout the year and in different modalities, not just annually face-to-face at Continuing Education conference workshops. Great! We are moving towards a continuous learning program.
This new approach to SLA professional development requires feedback from the Professional Development Advisory Council (PDAC). PDAC currently helps SLA staff review CE workshop proposals and has been charged with reviewing and proposing updates to the SLA Competencies document (which also should be a living, continuous document). Again, great! This should help integrate the competencies framework. In addition, SLA President Cindy Romaine has recently appointed a special task force to help fast track the competencies document review. I hope to see a re-energized PDAC partnering in that effort in 2012.
We also plan to reach out to iSchools to examine and propose opportunities for professional development programming. Once again, great! The iSchools (I would include LIS programs in a broad definition thereof) are training the next generation of librarians and information professionals, and it is exciting to have a hand in that effort (as those of us who teach know!). PDAC had a fruitful Skype discussion with some SLA leaders earlier this year about the importance of competencies for iSchools, including the need to promote relevant special libraries competencies into curricula where possible, noting that ALA competencies are more woven into these graduate schools than are SLA’s. I hope to see everyone who is or has taught information professionals contributing to professional development/graduate information school partnership ideas.
Moving forward, we want to pilot and evaluate some partnership and solo programs, and refine them as necessary. We also want to look at partnering with other professional schools, e.g. MBA programs in business schools, for further opportunities. I think we can do this right, so the sum of the whole of the partnerships is greater than our impact individually.
Hoping to chat with many of you in SLA about professional development, via phone, email, Skype, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc. (See, we’ve all come quite a ways from that 300 baud dial up!)
Sara Tompson is one of SLA’s Directors, 2011-2013.