Editor’s Note: Here is the second post in a series from Scott Walter, ex-ACRLog blog team member, in which he shares his learning experiences as a candidate for ACRL office.
Access to high-quality continuing professional education has come through in every study of the Association as a key member benefit, and it is something that ACRL does very well.
Turns out, thereâ€™s a problem. It costs a lot.
At meeting after meeting, this is what I heard: I love ACRL continuing education programs, the content is excellent, the speakers are expert, but, golly, I only have so much money for professional development, and couldnâ€™t there be some way to help me out? And, gee, I already pay a lot of money to be a member of ALA/ACRL, and I have to pay for conference registration, and itâ€™s hard to pay more to take advantage of these great opportunities. Professional development is important to me, and I want to know what Iâ€™m getting for my dues.
When our members value professional development and recognize the quality of our programming, but feel like they canâ€™t take full advantage of their member status owing to ever-increasing costs, thatâ€™s a problem. I knew it was a problem (I pay for these things, too!), but, until I spent some time on the campaign trail, I didnâ€™t realize how deeply it was coloring perceptions of the value of ACRL membership. I had a number of ideas about how to address this, but hereâ€™s the one I liked the best: members get one free.
One of our ACRL colleagues, Meredith Farkas, is the brilliant ghost in the machine that is Five Weeks to a Social Library: The First Free, Grassroots, Completely Online Course Devoted to Teaching Librarians About Social Software . What if ACRL coordinated the development of one professional development program each year as a member benefit? Think of it â€“ information literacy, scholarly communications, higher education administration, library renovations, designing learning spaces â€“ one topic, designed and delivered by the experts among us, informed by Meredithâ€™s model, and free to ACRL members.
We could do this. We should do this. Because professional development is one of the most important benefits of ACRL membership, and one of the things that we do better than anyone else, and every member should have a chance to sample that.
And, if they learn as much from that free (with membership) sample of our work as I know they will, theyâ€™ll feel better about the dues theyâ€™re paying, and, heck, they might come back to the table for more.