There is always a flurry of activity and a frisson of excitement when conferences are on the horizon (PLA! ALA! State Conference! SLJ Think Tank! ALSC Institute! Symposium! Unconference!). If you don't happen to be attending one of these opportunities to learn, share, network, it's easy to feel - well #leftbehind.
But you may not be missing as much as you think! As we have seen from recent blog posts on PLNs (Personal Learning Networks) here and here and here and here and here and (...pant, pant, pant!), you can stay right in your library at your desk and connect to a wealth of knowledge. Friendships and collegial relationships blossom through social media - win!
But perhaps you're not mainlining Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook and blog reading is kind of catch as catch can. You're only partway connected through social media but you long for connection to your peers - especially face-to-face. How do you connect and learn?
Road trip!!!! If you can steal time a couple of times a year, hit the road and do some boots-on-the-ground library visiting and IRL colleague meeting. It's a great way to see how another library does it good and to chat about concerns with colleagues who are or become friends.
Yesterday, a couple members of our department took a road trip to the Twin Cities to hear Rainbow Rowell speak. Along the way they met up with a colleague, toured her branch and another library, shared a good meal and most excellent conversation. What did it cost them (well, some sleep - it was a loooonnng day!)? Some quality time away from their desks and driving time - we have a library van available. It was a very reasonable cost for the library and me, as manager, to make sure these staffers could have a day away that was a mix of CE and connecting.
As a free-lance storyteller and workshop presenter, I often find myself on the road and in libraries. I make sure to connect with colleagues to share a meal, a drink or break and talk about what matters to us. It is connectivity and comfort. I learn about libraries of all sizes, I never fail to pick up a new idea or twenty, I get ideas for blog posts and I get to hear what is happening with colleagues. Youth librarian colleagues drop by and do the same at our shop when they are passing through our town.
It doesn't cost much. It connects you up. And you learn. Now that's CE I can get behind.