Creative CPD – Library Camp London session

At the recent Library Camp in London (#libcampldn) I ran a session on Creative Continuing Professional Development (CPD).

Training and development budgets are contracting in all organisations and sectors. Traditionally, courses were a primary source of CPD. So the challenge is: how do we continue to develop when we can’t attend formal courses?

Pitching this session at Library Camp, I knew I was somewhat preaching to the converted (people who were coming to an unconference in their own time), but was very surprised by the turnout of nearly 30 people. The large group was split in to three more manageable groups. This was a lightly facilitated session, it was designed to bring together likeminded people to share ideas and experiences.

Creative ways to do CPD:

  • Library visits and tours
    Groups suggested going on formal, organised library visits, but also encouraged being proactive by contacting libraries to ask for tours.
    Erasmus grants provide opportunities to visit or work abroad whilst enrolled on a Higher Education course.
  • Job shadowing
    This can be done formally, for example as part of your development plan or you could try running a Do something different day, which Cardiff University Library Service uses to give staff the opportunity to learn more about others’ work.
    There are also informal methods available, why not approach a colleague (within your organisation or outside of it) to talk about their job and share experiences?
  • Professional organisations
    Join organisations such as CILIP, SLA, BIALL, ALA – all provide development opportunities through courses (though not all free!), committee activity, bursaries for attending conferences, job boards and networking opportunities.
  • Professional networks
    Join a committee such as one of the CILIP branches or special interest groups.
    Many local professional networks offer free training such as Cardiff libraries in operation (CLIC), South Coast Universities, CPD25.
    Mailing lists ( or are a great way to get involved in professional conversations, for current awareness, discussing best practice and hearing about CPD opportunities.
    If a suitable local network doesn’t exist – why not build one? CILIP Chartership candidates have used the Twitter #chartership hashtag and the LIS-CILIP-REG@JISCMAIL.AC.UK to meet up with others in their area and share ideas.
    Networking was generally highlighted as a good way to develop professionally.
  • Reading professional literature
    Use Twitter, RSS feeds and Reference Management programmes such as Mendeley to help you keep up to date with the literature
  • Training
    Many organisations offer in-house training, explore these fully and don’t restrict yourself to the obvious courses.
    Away days – many larger organisations run away days for the entire library team (e.g. Imperial College London, Cambridge University Libraries) or for specific team member (such as library managers). These are especially valuable if staff are dispersed as it allows for sharing of information and best practice, as well as raising awareness of others’ work. It doesn’t have to be expensive (or a whole day!) you could hire a meeting room in your organisation and get the whole or part of the team (e.g. the library assistants) together – maybe your work will pay for some lunch (or biscuits at least!)
    Organise an hour’s training session where you or a colleague presents on a recent project, a topic you’re passionate about or a tool you find useful. This is useful knowledge exchange for the team, as well as a good opportunity for presenting and learning.
    Miniconferences – I presented at a half-day workshop/miniconference on using RSS (Feeding Time: using RSS to collect and share information) about Delicious, everyone speaking on the day was a member of CHILL and it wasn’t about being an expert on a particular technology, but sharing how you had successfully used it.
    Speak at or help organise conferences/events – this can provide opportunities to attend conferences or events you might otherwise not be able to, it also provides opportunities to develop your presentation skills, build connections, helps raise your professional profile and get experience of organising events.
    Providing training for others – volunteer to provide training to your colleagues or local network/group if they run peer-to-peer training.
    Online courses – Webinars (e.g. some database providers, such as Wiley, offer free webinars), CPD23, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), Coursera.
    Free events like Library Camp or Teachmeets – if there isn’t one happening in your local area, make it happen!
    Open University courses – although these do incur a charge, as far as I know.
    CILIP New Professionals Day – provides opportunities either by attending and presenting (or both!)
  • Gaining management experience
    Volunteering for committees and organising events can be a good way to gain management experience.
    Project management can provide you with transferrable skills for management.
    Provide training for others such as work experience students or new staff.


A theme that came up in the different groups, concerned appraisals and 1-2-1s with your manager. Some people weren’t getting regular 1-2-1s with their manager or having meaningful appraisals that led to actual action. 1-2-1s are essential in providing a forum for you to raise any issues you may be having at work and also to ensure you are developing. I am lucky to have a manager who is very committed to CPD, when we have our regular 1-2-1s I take my table of objectives for the appraisal period to ensure that I have activity across all of my objectives and will meet them by my next appraisal. My blog post on Getting the most out of your appraisal may provide some useful tips on this.

There were also some solo librarians who described the challenge of having a manager who’s not a librarian, so perhaps doesn’t understand how your development can and should take place. Convincing your organisation can also be a challenge if you are a solo librarian for the same reason. The groups suggested tapping in to local networks for support and to help you to think beyond your immediate organisation.


The groups recommended taking a proactive role in deciding how to do your CPD and finding solutions to challenges you may face, the approach of bottom-up education of management was suggested, afterall if you don’t make the case for your CPD who will? Keeping your vision was felt to be important, focusing on what you want to achieve will help you to convince others of the value of your development activities. Others suggested taking control, for example by writing your own job description if you feel it isn’t an accurate reflection of your work.

Above all, it is necessary to seize the moment and any opportunities that come your way – keep active!

Thank you to everyone who attended the session for their enthusiastic contributions.

Blog write-ups of this and other Library Camp London sessions are available here.


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