Category Archives: General

From Rotterdam to Lempäälä – Community bus, multi-professionalism and the library

By Jarkko Rikkilä, CPDWL SC member, Kirjastopäällikkö / Library Manager
Yhteisöpalveluiden palvelualue / Community Services

I have been a member of the IFLA CPDWL section for a couple of years now. Although IFLA’s internal working methods are only beginning to take shape for me, I have been sure of one thing since the beginning. Professional development and workplace learning are the most important themes for the library field. As customer expectations change and the complexity of the world increases, skill development is a fundamental issue in our world.

The library professional also needs multi-professional support and cooperation even more. At the IFLA WLIC conference in Rotterdam, Princess Laurentien talked about this very nicely. According to him, libraries are the opposite of loneliness. The library is a contact point to something bigger and the first connection to culture. Above all, however, the library is a link for cross-border cooperation. The future is not created from ivory towers.

While listening to the princess’ wonderful speech in Rotterdam, I thought about my own work as a library manager in Lempäälä municipality. Our municipality has 25,000 inhabitants and multi-professional cooperation is present in everyday life in many ways. In our community services, we meet employees multi-professionally every day. Library services, cultural services, sports services and youth services aim at the same thing: work that promotes well-being and health. We want our citizens to be well.

One of our interesting new concepts is called the Community Bus. The community bus is a bus that, in addition to library services, offers a place for young people, exercise guidance and cultural events. The community bus operation has started this spring and we expect success on the autumn routes. The bus is a platform, and I think it has been more important to encourage platform thinking for multiprofessional discussion.

Multiprofessional cooperation can be easier in a small or medium-sized municipality. Knowing someone else’s work teaches you a lot about your own work and increases the trust of the work community. In addition, multiprofessionalism is customer-oriented. In order to guarantee the highest possible level of services and common visibility, we must have common and shared practices and values. The bus has already attracted a lot of national interest. Maybe someday we’ll get to share thoughts about it in international arenas too!

IFLA and librarians’ impact at the United Nations: historical overview and compilation of resources

By Loida Garcia-Febo, IFLA Governing Board Member, Chair of Management of Library Associations and Advisor of CPDWL

The following is a compilation of resources related to IFLA and librarians’ advocacy to place libraries on the agenda of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and benefit libraries and communities worldwide. As this work is ongoing and has covered a span of years starting in 2014, it is sensible to note that there might be some documents that will need to be added.

The UN Sustainable Development Goals are a call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and improve the lives and prospects of everyone, everywhere. The 17 Goals were adopted by all UN members during the UN General Assembly in September 2015. Libraries worldwide are essential to development and are showing the power of libraries in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

IFLA members and staff members started advocating at the United Nations in full during the 8th session of the UN Open Working Group (OWG) between February 3-7 2014. There, IFLA presented the event “Data accountability for the post-2015 development agenda together with the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA). The meeting brought together various initiatives and key stakeholders active in the field to discuss how to facilitate the monitoring of the new development framework, improved data collection and use of data in evidence-based policy making and the role of intermediaries in fostering transparency and participation. Loida Garcia-Febo, IFLA Governing Board member then, presented the role of libraries in the data revolution and further promoted the central role libraries play. Summary about IFLA’s participation, papers presented, and related articles developed by IFLA are here in English and Spanish.

Since then, IFLA together with varied members leaders from different regions of the world, has established a presence at the United Nations. First, as a member of the UN Open Working Group that collaborated with UN members, permanent representatives, civil society groups, ambassadors and UN units to contribute to what would become the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). IFLA played a key role advocating for culture, education, and ICTs among other crucial matters for libraries and librarians. Libraries and librarians worldwide achieved a big win when the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals included Target 16.10, part of Goal 16:

UN SDG Goal 16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

Target 16.10: Ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements

IFLA’s page Libraries, Development and the United Nations Development Agenda provides insights about the work of IFLA in this area throughout the years.

Currently, results for the search term “United Nations” in the IFLA website total 536 results. These reflect an amazing activity lead by IFLA in different fronts related to the United Nations including the Sustainable Development Goals. Furthermore, the United Nations created a page featuring “Contributions of Libraries to the SDGs.”

Over the years, many IFLA Sections, Advisory Groups, and Special Interest Groups have enthusiastically included the UN SDGs in their activities. This year, the Management of Library Associations Section (MLAS) launched a webinar series under the theme “SDGs and Library Associations.” The series, a collaboration between IFLA MLAS, IFLA New Professionals, ENSULIB and Regional Divisions, was presented in March, May, June and July 2023 and featured various regions of the world.

IFLA has engaged many members in library advocacy at the United Nations. For instance, on July 17, 2017, the IFLA Leaders were part of the IFLA delegation to the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) and IFLA launched the Development and Access to Information Report. Another useful resource from 2017 that is still used as a reference by many interested in the topic of libraries and the SDGs is the IFLA Toolkit: Libraries, Development and the United Nations 2030 Agenda (Revised version – August 2017).

In recent years, engagement from members at the UN continue. The IFLA delegation to the UN High Level Political Forum (HLPF) in 2022 included librarians from Jamaica, Latvia, Argentina, Sri Lanka, USA Bostwana, and Lesotho who met with their ministers and spoke at various forums from the UN representing their countries and advocating for libraries.This past July IFLA also sent a delegation to the UN HLPF 2023 which included librarians from all regions of the world, North America, Latin America & the Caribbean, Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia/Oceania, Middle East and North Africa, and North America. These librarians met with ministers from their countries and some of them spoke on the floor about how libraries contribute to the SDGs. See results from the IFLA delegation at the HLPF2023 here. IFLA returns to the UN with two events for the Sustainable Development Action Weekend.

On July 5, 2023, IFLA was invited to speak at a High-level interactive dialogue on Culture  and Sustainable Development convened by the President of the United Nations General Assembly in partnership with UNESCO titled “Culture as a global public good: Filling SDG implementation gaps beyond 2030.” Loida Garcia-Febo represented IFLA and advocated for culture as part of the SDGs which IFLA has championed together with other organizations.

It is relevant to note that library associations around the world have heard IFLA’s call and have joined works to promote and include libraries in the UN SDGs. Some of these are: the Serbian Library Association which dedicated its 2017 annual conference to the SDGs, the Latvian Library Association which President spoke at the UN HLPF2022, the Australian Library Association with a myriad of resources including guides and teaching modules, and the American Library Association’s Task Force on the UN 2030 SDGs developing SDGs charts with examples for different types of libraries and free downloadable resources for libraries and the ALA UN SDGs Committee which has collaborated with IFLA to present joint programs during recent UN events.

In July 2023 the ALA collaborated with IFLA to present two virtual events during the days of the UN High Level Political Forum 2023:

  • “Indigenous Agency and Abundance: Impacts of Indigenous librarians and libraries on Indigenous communities, health, and inclusion and the 12th International Indigenous Librarians’ Forum.” Recording: com/3xf8trpy
  • “Libraries and Women Empowerment at the Intersection of Development.” Recording: com/f3ae8hyy

Additionally, in September 26 the ALA UN SDG Committee in collaboration with IFLA and the IFLA Indigenous Matters Section will present: “Library services to indigenous populations worldwide: rebuilding trust and reigniting global solidarity” during the days of the United Nations General Assembly. The event features indigenous library leaders in a dialogue about challenges and opportunities related to library services to indigenous populations in different regions of the world. They will discuss themes such as rebuilding trust and reigniting global solidarity, social protection systems, climate change and cultural rights which reflect the overarching theme of the 78th UN General Assembly: “‘Rebuilding trust and reigniting global solidarity: Accelerating action on the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals towards peace, prosperity, progress and sustainability for all.”

The event features the following speakers:

  • Camille Callison, University Librarian at University of the Fraser Valley,Member IFLA Indigenous Matters Section
  • Feather Maracle, CEO & Director of Library Services Six Nations Public Library,Member IFLA Indigenous Matters Section
  • Collence Chisita, Researcher/ Lecturer University of South Africa, Member IFLA Indigenous Matters Section
  • Cindy Hohl, Director of Branch Operations Kansas City Public Library,  ALA President-Elect, Member IFLA Indigenous Matters Section

The following are notable resources developed by IFLA to support library associations and libraries contributing to the UN 17 Sustainable Development Goals:

Libraries and the Sustainable Development Goals: A Storytelling Manual is an exceptional resource with guidance on How to tell your story Elements of compelling evidence-based storytelling.

The Library Map of the World is a unique database developed to house and provide access to SDG stories from different countries around the world.

IFLA together with members continue the key work of advocating for libraries and collaborating with UN members, permanent representatives, civil society groups, ambassadors and UN units to develop the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at various regional and global forums. Libraries are supporting social cohesion and are showing the power of libraries in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

An Interview with Veronda J. Pitchford, Assistant Director of Califa Group


In this blog series, we speak with LIS professional development trainers and providers in the field. In this post, we interview Veronda J. Pitchford, the Assistant Director of Califa Group, a nonprofit consortium committed to unleashing the impact of libraries.

As part of her role, Veronda serves as strategic partner for national grant projects, and manages Infopeople, Califa’s national online library training arm for library people.  She is an active member of the American Library Association (ALA) and currently serves on the Advisory boards for the ALA Business Advisory group, the Public Library Association Board of Directors, and the Center for the Future of Libraries.  She consults and presents on the how and why libraries are the rockstars for the communities they serve.   In her spare time, she is a member of PBS POV Documentaries Library Advisory Group and the Reading Between the Lines executive board, a non-profit committed to supporting the justice-impacted community with facilitated discussion-based programming that inspires conversation, connections, and critical thinking. Above all, she is, and will always be a die-hard library chick.

Thank you for taking the time to chat with us! Can you briefly tell us about your work and professional development interests?

Lucky for me, a good part of my work IS professional development.  I am the Assistant Director of Califa, a non-profit US based library consortium. I manage Infopeople, an online training program for library people.  I also serve as strategic partner for grant projects and do training and consulting for libraries on Califa’s behalf.

My professional development interests include anything and everything that ensures libraries are rockstars in the communities they serve;  this includes learning more about strategies that cultivate resilience to ready communities to thrive in these rapidly changing times.

For my own professional development, I have completed a design thinking certification and am now exploring more about participatory design including community led co-creation practices.

Next I want to learn more about futures work, specifically the strategic foresight framework training from the Connecticut State Library Futures School.

I always try to be on the lookout for what’s next in other disciplines and how libraries can be at the table for those conversations.


What do you think are the challenges in engaging library staff in professional development activities?

In my opinion, the biggest challenge for library staff is time and burnout. This is what I have been hearing from library staff everywhere.   They are doing so much more with less resources, staff and time that it is creating a culture of burnout for so many.

Frankly I think this burnout and lack of time is has been an issue all along and not solely a pandemic specific phenomenon.

At Infopeople we are working on more just-in-time training resources  through our Infopeople on Demand resource.  Here we provide recorded trainings for library staff that are available at the time of need.

I also think professional development organizations such as mine need to provide more training that features opportunities to learn from lived experience and leading practices from other industries such as The Poverty Truth Network which includes people who have struggled with poverty and people from organizations working together to address this critical issue.


What are some trends or areas in the LIS field for you?  


Like most things, the self-care movement includes has good, capitalist and toxic sides.

My favorite self-care resources include the Nap Ministry, which comes in the form of a manifesto, book, movement, and playlist.

I would love to see library people work together to create an international movement to address and mitigate library staff trauma through policies, funding, and identifying ways we can create and maintain cultures of care for library workers.

There is some great work being done in this area including the Urban Libraries Unite Urban Trauma Study,  which used emancipatory and participatory action research frameworks to explore how public library workers in urban centers experience trauma while providing library services and create a path forward for exploring institutional and individual solutions that will enable library workers and their institutions to continue providing vital library services to communities in need while still caring for the well-being of staff.

Infopeople also did a webinar on the topic of library staff trauma called, “We are not okay”  and developed a resource page for staff and library leaders on the topic.



Moving beyond the binary in its many forms including thinking; by learning to become comfortable with embracing uncertainty, affirming human beings right to fully express their whole selves regardless of assigned gender or our outdated perceptions of it and the many other forms of limiting ourselves to two alternative conditions or choices.

I found this article an especially inspiring reason to work on expanding my own thinking beyond the binary. How Dismantling the Gender Binary Can Help Eradicate Inequality

What resources or opportunities would you like to share to highlight the professional development activities for the LIS community?

As a former reference librarian, I leap at the opportunity to share my favorite resources.  In fact, I always tell people that sharing links is one of my love languages.

Here is what is on my radar these days:

Libraries and empathy

I am becoming very interested in Radical Empathy thanks to the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) funded Building Radical Empathy in Archives and Special Collections: Highlighting Historically Black Colleges and Universities (BRE), which my organization supports is designed to recruit HBCU undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) programs around the US, and early career archives and special collections professional for internships and additional training in radical empathy and other skills to ready them to make much needed change in the profession.

The grant is based on Terri Givens’ radical empathy work and book and research in the archives field including this seminal article co-authored by Dr. Cooke, entitled, “It Starts at Home: Infusing Radical Empathy into Graduate Education.”


The Empathetic museum The Empathetic Museum is a group of colleagues who propose institutional empathy (Words in bold italic at their first use can be found in glossary following the references at the end of this paper.) as a transforming force for museums. The article offers a  philosophy and a set of standards and tools that provide practical and iterative steps for resonance and relevance in the 21st century.


Link (and most recent work):

Many design thinking methods are based on gaining empathy.  The Beyond Sticky notes book and website is one of my favorites and I am dying to get into a course from them. Their work is steeped in respect, cultural care and authenticity.  I am a huge fan of them and Greater Good Studio, an awesome design firm which focuses on design thinking for social impact, from which I first heard about Beyond Sticky Notes.



Anything else you’d like to share that we didn’t get to talk about?

Thank you for the opportunity to be a part of this conversation on professional development.  Feel free to reach out to me with comments, feedback and resources that reflect what is keeping you at night and want to learn more about as a library worker.

And thanks, and library love to every library person reading this! It is such an honor to support your learning needs! I  am so proud of everything libraries to support the education, information, and lifelong learning needs of their communities.

An Interview with Kaetrena Davis Kendrick, a Researcher, Leader, Consultant and Coach

IFLA #WLIC2023 attended not long ago. There’s been a lot of discussions regarding artificial intelligence in libraries but what else should LIS students, trainers, educators, workers, and associations focused on professional development think about? We spotlight professional development trainers and experts in librarianship to talk about their work. In this blog post, we interview Kaetrena Davis Kendrick.

Kaetrena Davis Kendrick, MSLS is a Researcher, Leader, Consultant and Coach. She earned her M.S.L.S. from the historic Clark Atlanta University School of Library and Information Studies. While known for her work on ethics, equity, diversity and inclusion, and communities of practice in libraries, Kendrick’s research on low-morale experiences in library workplaces is recognized as groundbreaking and validating for library employees at all levels. In her daily and long-term work, Kendrick has transformed library programs, services, and culture via creativity, leadership, and advocacy. She is committed to centering well-being, creativity, and empathy in the workplace and promoting career clarity and rejuvenation to workers. In 2019, Kendrick was named the Association of College and Research Libraries’ Academic/Research Librarian of the Year. Learn more about her work.

Thank you for taking the time to chat with us! Can you briefly tell us about your work and professional development interests?

Kaetrena: My pleasure! I’m a researcher, leader, consultant and coach focused on helping people and groups – library workers or library organizations particularly – recognize, reconcile, and recover from their low-morale experiences. My coaching and consulting services are research- and praxis-based and driven by my mission to inspire authentic collegiality, and to promote well-being, share the gifts of creativity, and cultivate empathetic, engaged leadership in the workplace. My professional development interests include assertive/interpersonal communication, leadership awareness/improvement, and employee engagement. My practicing career centers academic librarianship, so I’m also interested in communities of practice and student engagement and outreach.

What do you think are the challenges in engaging library staff in professional development activities?

Kaetrena: Library workers who experience low morale – which my research defines as repeated, protracted exposure to workplace abuse and neglect  – generally note decreased interest in pursuing professional development, and they also indicate not being as motivated to connect with colleagues. Reduced funding, understaffing, decreased opportunities for stable and full-time employment, and burnout connected to (or exacerbated by) the global pandemic all have also increased these tenuous intersections of access to/ energy for continuing education and employee engagement.

What are some trends or areas in the LIS field for you? 

Kaetrena: Awareness and research surrounding the deep emotional labor of library work continues to increase, and that’s very important, because for too long, the realities of our daily work – in all kinds of libraries – has been hidden by nostalgia of our users, as well by our own efforts to not disappoint our users or disturb that sense of nostalgia. The recognition and understanding of that emotional labor, in turn, is driving more conversations about how to advocate for library employees – not just collections, building, and technology. Additionally, I’m seeing trends in coaching as a methodology of support and professional development for library workers – I was happy to see IFLA’s session on coaching at this year’s WLIC.

What resources or opportunities would you like to share to highlight the professional development activities for the LIS community?

Kaetrena: Library associations like the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) continue to offer excellent continuing education webinars, and CORE is also a great resource. E-learning platforms like WebJunction and Library Juice Academy are also places to browse  – I’ll be leading or moderating sessions on navigating low morale later this month and next year, respectively.  Don’t forget to mine other specialties, too!  For instance, you don’t have to be an archivist or curator to benefit from the great offerings that archival and/or museum associations have. And be sure to attend the annual Conference on Academic Library Management – it’s free, virtual, and a great opportunity to learn from and connect with formal and informal library leaders focused on surfacing dignity and humaneness in college and university library workplaces. Books I often return to include:

  • Critical Hope by Kari Grain
  • Fostering Wellness in the Workplace: A Handbook for Libraries by Bobbi L. Newman
  • Rest is Resistance by Tricia Hersey

Anything else you’d like to share that we didn’t get to talk about?

Kaetrena: If readers are experiencing low morale, professional development and continuing education are established countermeasures. Engaging in these activities will help you maintain a realistic perspective of your skillset, keep you connected outside of your immediate unhealthy workplace, and ensure you’re prepared for your next move to a better, more healthy organization. Also: keep in mind that professional development doesn’t just mean a class or a certificate – it can be coaching (considering and reflecting on, and taking action as a result of impactful questions aren’t just for our users – they’re for you, too!)

Fighting Against Book Bans in Libraries: Select Resources to Explore, Raise Awareness, and Take Action


Banned Book Week

Unfortunately, many libraries, bookstores, and schools around the world are seeing an increasing wave of book banning and challenges. Book banning and challenges impacts our readers’ rights to access books. Book banning and challenges creates censorship culture in our communities which is against IFLA’s values. “Because censorship prevents the enjoyment of several generally recognized human rights, as expressed most fundamentally in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, IFLA emphatically argues for principles of freedom of expression and freedom of access to information” (see IFLA Statement on Censorship). 

In the United States, book banning and challenges have been increasing over time, specific right wing extremist groups have been targeting books by and about people of color, LGBTQ+ people, and people who belong to religious minorities, and claiming that there are “inappropriate” content that children are reading or being taught. Their outrage and allegations are amplified on social media where they are actually determining the school curriculum or library collection and deciding who gets to read what and disregarding the expertise of teachers and librarians. According to Kelly Jensen from Book Riot, “Since the start of the 2022-2023 school year — July 1 through December 30, 2023 — PEN America recorded 1,477 separate instances of book bans across the country. This includes 874 unique titles in 182 school districts and 37 states.” Furthermore, an Iowa School District used ChatGPT, the generative artificial intelligence tool, to ban books because such books may contain discussions on sexuality and gender identity that may be viewed as inappropriate for the school curriculum (see Wired).

This is not only a United States issue but a global one. Intellectual freedom is being threatened and overturned as a right, and many libraries are facing this issue. In Australia, the graphic memoir, Gender Queer by non-binary author and artist Maia Kobabe, is being considered to be censored by the Australian Classification Board. Conservative groups have pushed for this title to be banned either for certain age groups or completely banned from access in schools or libraries. In Hungary, the government has ordered bookshops to seal and wrap books that promote or contain gender identities and transition, and sexualities before sale for people under 18 according to a Reuters report and Book Riot. 

Individuals should be trusted to make their own decisions about what to read.

What should we consider in addressing these waves of book bans and challenges and censorship in our libraries, bookstores, and schools? Here are some resources to think about these issues and ways to counter it collectively: 

IFLA FAIFE – Advisory Committee on Freedom of Access to Information and Freedom of Expression – stay involved and informed on what IFLA FAIFE will promote or need support on. This IFLA advisory group may share helpful information or statements regarding the topic of censorship and intellectual freedom. Reach out to the committee members for more information or advice. 

Banned Books Week will occur on October 1-7, 2023. “It is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries.” More than celebrating books that are banned, there are tools to come together as a community for virtual read out loud events and social media promotions and to share with your communities, and school or library boards to raise awareness.  

Unite Against Book Bans – this campaign is organized by the American Library Association and offers resources for those seeking coalition building against book banning that is occurring in the United States. However, Unite Against Book Bans is still a useful resource, particularly for those outside of the United States who are looking for ways to build partnerships against book censorship and banning. The toolkits, pledges, and statements from this page might offer guidance for the work you are doing. 

Regardless of your position or job role in the library community, book banning, book challenges, censorship, and threats to intellectual freedom impacts all of us. As the IFLA Statement on Censorship states, “All persons, governments and other institutions of society—including library and information services, their associations and their workers—are therefore called to defend and promote freedom of expression and freedom of access to information.”

Eight fantastic years with CPDWL

by Almuth Gastinger (CPDWL Secretary 2021–2023)

My second term as a standing committee member for CPDWL was ending in August 2023, and I would like to write about my experiences with this fantastic section and committee during the last eight years.

My first encounter with CPDWL was in 2009 when I attended its satellite meeting in Bologna. Such an incredibly well organised event, lots of interesting presentations and discussions (I presented together with my colleague Lene Bertheussen), good conversations with fellows from all over the world, and last not least delicious food and drinks. It was in Bologna I became friends with several colleagues from various countries who I still am very close to. Really one of the best conferences I have ever attended!

In 2009 I was still a member of the Information Literacy standing committee, but when my term ended in 2015, I wanted to work with CPDWL and fortunately I got elected as a standing committee member. Lucky me!

Four women seated at a table at a Chinese restaurant

Almuth (far right) having a dinner with CPDWL Officers past and present: Helen (far left), Gill, & Sandy (co-chairs 2019–2021).

One of the most interesting and rewarding experiences in this committee has been the work in the Coaching Initiative that CPDWL introduced in 2018. I have been part of its working group since then and I have learnt so much about coaching and mentoring. It was also fantastic to see participants of the annual congress being so pleased and thankful for this opportunity to get empowered and grow, and I loved collaborating with enthusiastic colleagues from CPDWL and the Management & Marketing Section.

Other most exciting but also challenging activities came along with my function as the section’s secretary during the last two years. Working as the secretary does not only mean to write meeting minutes, but one is part of the section’s officers group. That means, I worked together with our chair/co-chair Ulrike Lang and Alan Brine and information coordinator Edward Lim. All of them incredibly well-organised and outstanding professionals, so that there were of great help for me. Thanks a lot!

But there is much more to mention and to remember from those years:

Almuth (center) facilitating a Knowledge Cafe session at WLIC 2023

I loved contributing to the roundtable discussion at the Knowledge Café that CPDWL joined the Knowledge Management Section in organising. It was also great doing a podcast, helping with our webinars and organising our sessions at the WLICs, contributing to CPDWL’s newsletter and our Global Community Kitchen project, writing blog posts, and organising our “Get to Know You” Meet Ups. In addition, I loved to translate CPDWL’s poster “Guidelines for Continuing Professional Development: Principles and Best Practices” into Norwegian and to help translating coaching material into German.

Almuth standing with Ulrike (right) holding the IFLA Dynamic Unit and Impact Award certificate

The high level of professionality and the numerous inclusive activities and achievements were the foundation for CPDWL winning the IFLA Dynamic Unit and Impact Award in 2018 and again just a week ago in Rotterdam. We were and are all so incredibly proud!

I have always been interested in national and international co-operation, and I am passionate about collaboration and knowledge sharing among information professionals worldwide, and about strengthen libraries to provide essential services.

That means, serving IFLA as the global voice of the library and information profession and CPDWL as one of its outstanding sections has been a privilege for me and a unique personal and professional experience. Those many years have broaden my horison so much, got me new perspectives, inspired and motivated me, expanded my professional and personal networks, and given me many new ideas for my work at home. The work has made me more self-confident and has improved my English, too. My colleagues from my library in Trondheim/Norway have told me many times that they appreciate me taking knowledge and experiences I have gained back to them and our workplace. I have also published more, given more presentations, and last but not least, I have got friends all over the world.

IFLA and CPDWL have definitely changed my life, and the last eight years have been interesting, exciting, motivating, challenging, rewarding, and much more. THANK YOU!!!

An Interview with Elaina Norlin from ASERL

Getting ready for #WLIC2023? We are spotlighting professional development trainers and experts in librarianship to talk about their work. In this blog post, we interview Elaine Norlin, Professional Development DEI Coordinator for the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries (ASERL).

Elaina Norlin is the Professional Development DEI Coordinator for the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries. She is an accomplished teacher, technology and leadership development trainer, and writer with extensive leadership experience and a flair for public relations, organizational development, marketing and persuasion and communications. Author of three books, she has delivered over 100 workshops, training sessions, presentations, and institutes both nationally and internationally on marketing, web usability design, facilitation, strategic influence, and conflict management. Self-motivated and results oriented, she is well known for her ability to juggle many projects at once.

Thank you for taking the time to chat with us! Can you briefly tell us about your work and professional development interests?

Norlin: That’s an excellent question, my Professional Development role at the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries (ASERL) keeps me busy and constantly engaged in current trends. As part of my job, I actively seek captivating and enriching content across all cultural heritage spectrum, placing a distinct focus on amplifying diverse and marginalized perspectives. Presently, my primary interest lies in creating and hosting content concerning future and exciting trends within higher education. I am particularly immersed in exploring themes such as enrollment patterns and their convergence with Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI), projected budget allocations and potential inequities, talent management and employee engagement strategies, educational neuroscience advancements, and the realm of extended reality.

What do you think are the challenges in engaging library staff in professional development activities

Norlin: The majority of librarians I engage with are grappling either with burnout or the frustrations stemming from the pervasive “do more with less” scarcity mindset that occasionally afflicts our profession. This persistent frustration of being unable to match the demands of the workload often leads individuals not have both the time and the energy required for their professional growth. Moreover, the strain of a demanding work environment complicates the task of maintaining a harmonious workplace atmosphere and a well-adjusted work-life balance, posing considerable challenges to prioritizing ongoing professional development.

Another distinct trend I’ve observed is the undeniable prevalence of virtual fatigue. As a consequence of most work interactions transpiring within the virtual space, many individuals encounter difficulties when attempting to engage in online learning, especially as there are an endless number of distractions.  Recent post-pandemic research reveals that the online attention span for passive learning is approximately seven seconds—a remarkably brief span. This condensed attention span underscores the essentiality of incorporating more interactive learning methodologies to captivate individuals’ attention and facilitate the absorption of information.

What are some trends or areas in the LIS field for you? 

Norlin: This year, the most requested professional development is artificial intelligence, burnout mitigation within the workplace, data science advancements, neurodiversity integration, and the formulation of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) strategies within the backdrop of political backlash. One recent standout was a higher education webinar focused on extended reality—an intriguing topic that resonates with the ever-evolving world of online learning. The discussion centered on the pivotal role of active engagement in inspiring the next generation of students.

Another burgeoning area of concern centers around marketing and advocacy strategies, particularly pertinent in light of the prevailing challenges like book bans, threats, and terminations stemming from the current political climate. While marketing and advocacy have always held importance in the domain of librarianship, the current environment requires an enhanced focus on crisis communication and strategic approaches to swiftly address unforeseen challenges. The need for agile problem-solving has become more evident, as librarians grapple with unexpected scenarios requiring quick but persuasive responses to combat current and future attacks on intellectual freedom.

What resources or opportunities would you like to share to highlight the professional development activities for the LIS community?

Norlin: My advice to librarians is to stay well-versed in the realm of library literature, but concurrently read and watch content that is outside our profession. It’s all too simple to become inward-focused and engrossed solely in resolving immediate library related issues and crises. But with today’s ever changing higher education landscape, it’s very beneficial to allocate time to observe prospective and future trends.

For example, ongoing research consistently shows the fluctuations in higher education enrollment across institutions, with an overall trend of decline in overall numbers. While elite institutions seem to be maintaining a favorable financial outlook, many regional colleges, whether public or private, have grappled with meeting their enrollment targets in recent years. As highlighted by Inside Higher Ed, the pandemic impacted transfer and international enrollment, and this is the second year in terms of the decline.  On the other hand, smaller colleges that have refocused their strategy providing more positive student experiences and incorporating innovative and creative learning models are witnessing modest growth in enrollment. As we look more about what’s going on, librarians can become more proactive in terms of reactive when it comes to pivoting and realigning our strategic focus.

Anything else you’d like to share that we didn’t get to talk about?

Norlin: Present Employee Engagement research serves as a clear reminder that a growing number of individuals are becoming disengaged or are quietly stepping back from their responsibilities due to burnout and toxic work environments. In a recent study by the Workforce Institute at UKG, 74% of employees shared that they feel more engaged and happier when they believe their voices matter at their workplaces. However, most employees feel undervalued, leading to a significant increase in the number of people disengaging from their work, which now accounts for over 69% of the workforce.

So, my advice that I tell library organizations who want to actively work on morale is to observe workplace trends, but also to consistently seek solutions that can truly transform the work environment. There are actionable steps we can take to improve our work settings. The first step involves looking beyond our own profession to identify what’s effective elsewhere and how we can apply those practices. This empowerment leads to a workforce that feels confident in making decisions that positively influence their work, thus setting in motion a positive cycle of engagement and innovation.