April 24, 2018

Bringing it Back Home: How Do You…? | Not Dead Yet

Here’s a question for anyone who’s willing to share their library’s practice for sharing what you learn “on their dime.” How do you bring back to your library, and share with your colleagues, the information you gain at library-supported professional development activities (conferences, workshops, training, etc.)? I’ve read plenty about libraries’ missions and strategic plans, and so on, but I haven’t been able to find many specific descriptions, or examples, of what librarians are doing to share their knowledge learned at professional events.

I’m asking because I realize that library budgets are such that we need to make the most of every learning opportunity we get, and sharing it freely amongst ourselves is one way of doing that. I’m also interested in hearing about new and creative ways of sharing professional development knowledge locally, especially specific examples of new and creative fora others are using to communicate the information. Are you writing “reports home” about your journeys? Giving presentations or training sessions to groups? Doing “journal entries”? Creating YouTube videos or Prezi presentations? Using role-playing to pass on new skills? I’ll give you an example of the kind of thing I’m looking for: after a couple of us here attended one of CLIR’s participatory-design workshops (led by the brilliant Nancy Fried Foster), we led a participatory design workshop here “at home,” involving a number of colleagues in the process from start to finish, thereby

  • A. getting student feedback through the workshop, and
  • B. demonstrating firsthand to the rest of our colleagues just how a such a thing is done.

I liked doing this because it carried out two missions with a single activity, and I have the feeling that others out in libraryland are involved in more of this “active participation” to achieve an end, while having the means to that end be part of the end itself (am I starting to sound like Professor Irwin Corey here?).

If you have what you think is an effective means of bringing such skills back to your library, I’d love it if you’d share it with me, either in a comment here, or in an email to me at: claguard@fas.harvard.edu. I’ll summarize them for a future column, and will give attribution or anonymity to the sender—whichever you prefer. Thanks!

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Cheryl LaGuardia About Cheryl LaGuardia

Cheryl LaGuardia always wanted to be a librarian, and has been one for more years than she's going to admit. She cracked open her first CPU to install a CD-ROM card in the mid-1980s, pioneered e-resource reviewing for Library Journal in the early '90s (picture calico bonnets and prairie schooners on the web...), won the Louis Shores / Oryx Press Award for Professional Reviewing, and has been working for truth, justice, and better electronic library resources ever since. Reach her at claguard@fas.harvard.edu, where she's a Research Librarian at Harvard University.



  1. Schlow Centre Region Library, State College, PA: We have a form with a few questions that staff fill out and share when they return from a workshop. I review all of them as director and people share the forms on the intranet. We really try to implement the good things we hear at workshops. We have a state requirement for continuing education and this also helps us track achievement.

    Describe at least one thing you learned that was a completely new concept for you.

    Describe the three most interesting concepts you learned about:

    How could at least one of these concepts be applied to Schlow operations in general?

    How could at least one of these concepts be applied to your job at Schlow specifically?

    • Dear Catherine,
      Thanks for writing, and thanks especially for sharing the questions you and your folks answer and share upon returning from a conference. Sounds like a great idea!
      Best wishes,