March 19, 2018

Bringing it Back… to You: Sharing PD, Data Training, and the Information School at UDub | Not Dead Yet

Following up on a couple of columns, I’d like to report back to you readers with responses and subsequent happenings, as well as describe a recent professional experience I had. First, many thanks to all of you who either posted responses here or wrote to me privately in answer to my last column (Bringing it Back Home: How Do You…?), sharing some of your ways of “bringing it [what you learned] back home” from conferences, workshops, and other professional development activities. Here’s a summary of the activities reported:

  • “Random ways: our professional development is pretty much personal and driven by individual librarians…. “
  • “Sometimes a motivated individual sends out a mass email inviting colleagues to a show and tell session and presents on something they experienced,”
  • “Sometimes a group of us will decide to have a brown-bag lunch session and go around the room doing a lightning wrap-up of the past year’s conferences,”
  • “One thing we have done consistently [for years] is subscribe to the ACRL [Association of College & Research Libraries] virtual conference so everyone gets a chance to attend even if our PD money doesn’t stretch to letting everyone make the conference in person.”
  • “It’s hit-or-miss. Some folks report back when they’ve had a particularly good experience, or a particularly bad one, too.”
  • “People here write up reports and post them on the staff portion of the library website.”
  • “Lots of our librarians tweet from conferences, and some blog.”
  • “I did a Prezi presentation and posted it on our website.”
  • “A colleague and I did a workshop for other librarians that used the processes and skills we’d learned.”

The response I got most often, though, was a variation on this:

  • “We don’t report back. Many of us would like to, but once we’re back in the library things are so busy we just don’t have the time.”

I’d like to highlight one experience sent to me by Rebecca King, currently Youth Services Librarian at the Palos Heights Public Library in Illinois:

  • “I attended ALA last year as a Spectrum Scholar, courtesy of ALA. At the time, I was working part-time at two public libraries in the youth services departments and enrolled in the University of Illinois [U of I] GSLIS program. I wanted to share the experience in some way with other students, particularly potential Spectrum Scholars, and I asked staff at the U of I for a suggested way to do that, other than a blog or tweets. They asked if I would take photos and write very brief comments to highlight the event. Of course, I readily agreed and spent the week handing my camera to others to snap away! (U of I asked that I be in the photos.) I sent 3 or 4 updates and they posted them on the GSLIS home page, and of course it is now available with a quick online search!”

I love this idea! Many thanks to Rebecca, and to everyone else who wrote and shared their experiences.

Next item: following up on my March 15 column, “Data Scientist Training for Librarians,” I wanted to let those interested know that the brainstorming session report is done and up at the Liberact web site. In a recent email, Chris Erdmann of the Wolbach Library here at Harvard noted that “the University of Calgary is hard at work planning a repeat of the event. We will share the date of that event when it is public,” and I’ll update with a notice when I get it. (One of the presentations at the workshop was by Peter Der Manuelian, Philip J. King Professor of Egyptology and Director of the Giza Project at Harvard University, a faculty member with whom I’ve worked. If you haven’t yet encountered the Giza Project, take a look—it is fascinating.)

Lastly, I want to give a shout out to Helene Williams and her students at the University of Washington Information School. I was fortunate enough to be a virtual guest panelist (along with six colleagues) for Helene’s hybrid LIS 598: Special Topics: Information Access in the Humanities course, and frankly, we had a blast. The students asked great questions (very glad to know they’re highly attuned to both the Digital Humanities AND essential print humanities resources!) and it was so enjoyable to hear colleagues talk about their work, collaborate with Helene (who is so high energy it’s mind boggling), and get to hear from up and coming librarians. My thanks to all of you for a rousing sendoff into the holiday weekend!

More as it happens,


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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, where she's a Research Librarian at Harvard University.

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  1. Helene Williams says:

    Thanks, Cheryl, to you and the other librarians for a great session last Friday! Connecting practitioners and students is one of my favorite things to do–and it keeps me young!

    • Hey, Helene —
      then you must connect practitioners and students a lot, because every time I see you, you look younger. I’m guessing that working with up and coming librarians is like a tonic, too, but now you’ve got me thinking it’s the fountain of youth.

      Here’s to connecting the new and the seasoned! and thanks to you and your students, again,