Infinite Learning: Professional Learning Experiences

“Google can bring you back 100,000 answers, a librarian can bring you back the right one.” 

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960. English author of short fiction, novels, comic books, graphic novels, audio theatre, and films)

Wow. No pressure. That was a light joke and although I kid, I do believe that librarians must keep learning. As the world shifts and the public learns of new tech, fads, research methods, and news, they’ll want answers to new types of questions and they’ll come to the library and they’ll ask ask librarians.

San Jose State University Professor, Michael Stephens, facilitated a discussion with librarians and other library staff members at an American Library Association (ALA) annual conference. When asking them about the trends they are observing that require new opportunities for education/training, members of the conference answered with trends that include understanding new technologies and privacy (2018). Librarians seem to understand that they should keep learning and see what they need help with. In this same article, a common response talked about going beyond introductory material (2018) and that’s something that I resonated with when working at the library. If I wanted to learn more about a particular library service, I’d have to do it on my own time or squeeze it in front of a patron. What’s the right answer? In the article, The Library As A Classroom For Library Staff, it was mentioned that a possible solution includes offering courses that take 60 minutes to complete and being assessed on those courses (2016). In my own experience, I’ve bene in libraries where the weekly all-hands meeting would last a little longer and a portion would be dedicated to learning something new and I thought it was rather affective. Aside from possible hour long courses and team meetings, staff was expected to learn new technologies and trends on their own time. This is especially hard when it includes technologies that were part of the services offered in the library (i.e. a new robot or new type of 3D printer or the new copy machine).

So, how do we keep up? Amos Blanton led a “learning through play” activity with LEGO Group employees at the 2016 LEGO Idea Conference. This is great way to learn in a way that doesn’t create burnout and can assist in lifelong learning. How can we fit learning through play in everyday life? Some companies are incorporating makerpaces in their offices to allow employees to tinker and play. Google, for example, allegedly asks that employees spend 20% of their job working on an unrelated project, according to an Uncubed article. Should we offer the same type of worklife to library employees? Can we afford to? Or is the question, can we afford NOT to?

Google, Microsoft, and Quartz are Embracing the Makerspace. (2017, February 22). Retrieved from

LEGO Foundation, director. What Do We Mean by Learning through Play? Vimeo, 16 Apr. 2020,

Sally. (2016, June 28). The Library As A Classroom For Library Staff. Retrieved from

Stephens, M. (2018, October 25). PLEs @ ALA: Office Hours. Retrieved from

Studies, L. (2020, January 28). Best Quotes About Libraries Librarians and Library and Information Science. Retrieved from