Friday, August 13, 2010

Lifelong learning makes you valuable

I just finished reading Carlen Ruschoff's column entitled "Competencies for 21st Century Technical Services." Published in the Nov/Dec 2007 issues of Technicalities, it's an 'oldie but goodie.'

One of the cornerstones that Ruschoff suggests we need to build upon is the commitment to being lifelong learners in both formal and informal ways.

She writes:
The person who seeks out opportunities to grown and change is truly valuable, indeed. The person who integrates what has been learned into his or her work is priceless!

As the field of cataloging changes(and man, oh man, is the field changing!), the commitment to being lifelong learners increases in importance. We have to stay engaged in the conversation about the future of Technical Services, but we can only do that if we're in-the-know about current and future trends.

The good part is that webinars and other free resources like blogs and freely available journal articles make it easier than ever to stay informed. The bad news, for some anyway, is that this increased access to free information makes it harder than ever to disengage.

But don't just learn new things, put them into action! Change your workflow. Teach a class. Improve your cataloging. Ask your supervisor if you can incorporate a new format into your work.

Showing both the initiative to learn something new and the willingness to incorporate what you learned into your existing workflow raise your stock in your library. You become someone who takes initiative and someone who is not afraid of change.

Up until my current job, I worked exclusively with Dewey. Every job, from the shelving job I had as a teenager to the paraprofessional cataloging job, was in a public library. So when I started my current job in a library that uses LC Classification, I felt more than a little bit lost.

I love my work and I'm good at it, but using LC Classification has always been my weakest skill.

I got a new supervisor recently, and we started setting my goals for my six month evaluation. I told my new supervisor that I really wanted to be more comfortable with LC Classification. I came up with a plan on how I would do that and she signed off on it.

I'm working my way through Learn Library of Congress Classification (for the second time) and doing some copy cataloging to learn more about how LC Classification works. Hopefully, by the end of the six month period, I'll be a LC Classification-using fool.

My point is, there's always something new that you can learn and always some way in which you can incorporate these new skills and knowledge into your work. And doing both of those things make you more valuable to your library.

Be proactive. Be visible. Be awesome.

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