Remote + Connected

Reflection #5: Cultivating a Personal Learning Environment (PLE)

Last year, I began a full-time library position in Youth Services for a small, rural library in California. Being fairly new to library work (career shifting from a teaching background), the SJSU school classes and community were a huge component of my Personal Learning Environment (PLE). Now, that I am almost finished with the program (hopefully Spring 2020), I realize I need to continue cultivating my PLE beyond the master’s program so I can continue to grow and learn myself.

In the Infinite Learning series, I was especially inspired by the Creative Classroom model (Bocconi, Kampylis, & Punie, 2012) and its applications for libraries. This model encourages librarians to stay engaged in a continual process of self-reflection: What’s working and not working? How can I build upon what I am doing? What is my ultimate vision? The model (Pewhairangi, 2016) invites librarians to incorporate new digital technologies into their learning process, and after learning about this model, I now see how much The Hyperlinked Library builds upon this learning model.

Public librarians crave a chance to come together in a small group for active discussion, learning, and hands-on play with ideas and technologies.

Stephens, M. (2018). Personal, Actionable, Accessible

What impressed me even more was Sally Pewhairangi’s focus on librarians and library staff who were currently underserved. She writes, “I wanted to see if I could make professional development opportunities available to those ‘left behind’ – who were often part time, frontline staff with extremely limited time available for upskilling.” Yes! I also appreciated her emphasis on the importance of digital literacy and the multiple ways in which it impacts our learning selves in another blog post.

For someone who works in a remote rural area, access to online learning and online professional networks (like the SJSU school) is extremely important. Two years ago, I wrote a paper for INFO 200 that talked about how rural librarians and staff are frequently underserved due to lack of geographic accessibility and funds for professional development compared to urban and suburban counterparts. The LIS research on underserved rural librarians (Mehra, et. al, 2010) was done almost ten years ago when there were few online learning opportunities (and even if they existed the rural libraries rarely had high-speed internet to take advantage of them). Thankfully, I was able to start this program in 2017 because the internet in my town, up until then, was too slow for streaming video reliable (just to put things in perspective).

Created by Cristin McVey (2017)

Well, I am getting off the topic of PLEs, but I know that as I build my own, it will be heavily dependent on online learning because it is more accessible and affordable for me. Everyday, I am so thankful for high-speed internet and the growth of online PLEs, whether those be private Facebook groups, Zoom tutorials, recorded conference videos, library blogs, and so much more to discover.


Belshaw, D. (2014).The Essential elements of digital literacies. Retrieved from

Bocconi, S., Kampylis, P.G. and Punie, Y. (2012). Innovative Learning: Key elements for developing creative classrooms in Europe. Joint Research Centre – Institute for Prospective Technological Studies. European Commission. Publications Office of the European Union: Luxembourg Retrieved from

Mehra, B., Black, K., & Lee, S. (2010). Perspectives of East Tennessee’s Rural Public Librarians About the Extent of Need for Professional Library Education: A Pilot Study. Journal of Education for Library and Information Science,51(3), 142-157. Retrieved from

Pewhairangi, S. (2016). The Library as a Classroom for Library Staff: A New Kind of Learning Environment. Retrieved from

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3 thoughts on “Reflection #5: Cultivating a Personal Learning Environment (PLE)

  1. Tiffany Song

    Hi Cristin,

    I really loved how thoughtful your post was on the creative classroom model and your reflection on what you could do. We can all take inspiration from these resources in order to apply them to our work to create a place of discussion and play for our patrons and students. I think it would be wonderful to see an integration of digital technologies to a librarian’s learning journey. We see now that technology has played its part in how society has advanced and perhaps it remains at the heart of connections.

    It’s all the more important that we make these pieces of technology available for the people who might have limited funding or time to improve their skillset. I’m honestly sad to hear that rural libraries do not receive sufficient funding because it’s clear to me that it would be welcomed. When I was in the southern part of Taiwan, the closest ‘technology’ or electronic entertainment was the game corner. It was hard to see a library within walking distance if any at all.

    I feel that there is a need for recreational activity and that there is an interest in having new technology. I would love to have a sneak peek as to why rural areas do not have libraries that have abundant resources. Your paper on this issue sounds intriguing.

    I understand that cost can be an issue but there has to be a way to provide equal access to digital technology. I also think it’s great that we have online learning because it’s super convenient for people who work full-time jobs or live in another country/time zone.

    1. Cristin Marie Post author

      Hi Tiffany,
      The situation with rural libraries is complicated, but it mainly comes down to less tax revenue so it’s very difficult to fund small libraries to the same standards as suburban and urban libraries. There is also less public support for rural libraries, where the uses of public tax money is more scrutinized. Rural libraries are also less represented as a whole when compared to urban and suburban libraries, so it can be difficult to have our voices heard within library culture. Up until a few years ago, high speed internet was rare too, so that didn’t help either. But things seem to be changing for the better, and in the last few years, there seems to be more political support for underserved rural communities in the US. Hope that helps!

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