Alejandra’s Blog

Professional Learning Experiences

April 30, 2021 · 2 Comments

I decided to pursue my MLIS at SJSU because I love to learn, and I love to facilitate learning. After working in a few different library settings, I knew that librarianship was the profession for me. This is my last semester at the iSchool before I graduate, and the Professional Learning Experiences module really caught my attention and gave me the space to explore what learning will look like post-graduation. 

In the Heart of Librarianship, Michael highlights the importance of libraries fostering a culture of learning. In INFO 230, I learned about academic libraries and the space they give libraries to research and explore new trends. This is a far cry from my experience working in public libraries. I often heard about colleagues attending the California Library Association (CLA) conference but never knew of any new trends or ideas learned at the conference. During the pandemic, I have been able to attend 2 conferences and take free online learning classes through LinkedIn Learning. These opportunities have helped me grow in my position, but the ideas I gained usually went out the window after reporting to my supervisor what I learned. In this course, I have learned to have hope and think beyond the constraints of “what has always been done” in libraries. It is very easy to complain and blame the institution for the lack of innovation and inability to collaborate to create something new. It is bold and inspiring to take the initiative to start conversations around new trends and put in the leg work to make those ideas a reality. 

Moving forward, I want to present the 3-2-1 plan outlined in Wholehearted Librarianship to my current organization. The plan shared by library director Jennifer Cottrill described their professional learning experience reporting system to include 3 of the best sessions, 2 new concepts learned, and 1 idea to apply immediately (p. 57). Having actionable items is the most important idea to take forward with me into my career. It is so easy to write a report on how great a conference was. Having one actionable item sounds so simple, but it is something I struggle to remember. 

Libraries are excellent at sharing information with consortia efforts and loaning programs that allow our collections to be shared across systems. A similar strategy needs to be created with learning and innovation, especially in public libraries. I think this can be done by networking and collaborating with other librarians online. This can also be done by building relationships with our colleagues. Breaking up new ideas into actionable steps is also a great way to convert professional learning ideas into reality. As with most things, there needs to be institutional change to revolutionize libraries. But a revolution does not happen overnight. It starts with individual action and community organizing. How can I personally engage my fellow library professionals as I begin my career? And how can I lead innovation and library participation in the organizations I work within? Time will tell how I accomplish this, but I have tangible strategies and words of wisdom to guide me.


Stephens, M. (2019). “PLEs & ALA” in Wholehearted Librarianship, p. 55

Stephens, M. (2016). “Learning to Learn” in The Heart of Librarianship, p. 140

Categories: Uncategorized

2 responses so far ↓

  • Kellie Lanham-Friedman // May 1, 2021 at 5:19 pm | Reply

    Hello Alejandra,

    Thanks for sharing your experience. I have always been interested in what administration is like at a public library, since I have only experienced working at an academic library. Sounds like our experiences are similar, with an organization resistant to change. But, I am so inspired by your willingness to continue to engage in professional development and further your education. I keep reminding myself not to be discourage by an institution that doesn’t want to change. We are taking on this degree so we can create a shift.

    Congrats on graduating!

  • Michael Stephens // May 6, 2021 at 4:54 pm | Reply

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on PLEs and the 3-2-1 concepts. I think the “action items” concept has really stuck with me too. It makes things more concrete.

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