Ever since I joined the school library world, I’ve been amazed at the ways in which seemingly similar professions (book publishers, booksellers, authors, English teachers, for example) know little about one another and maintain rather separate professional development lives.
In a past life, I occasionally attended the Association for Writers and Writing Programs annual conference (AWP). When I revisited this conference in my librarian role, I found stark differences. Where we celebrated new YA author panels, AWP had panels with authors defending their choice to publish in this area. Even vendors displayed a different side of themselves when surrounded by these literary academics. Then when I went to the Book Expo America (BEA) the following year I noticed that small publishing houses that had huge booths at AWP were hidden in remote aisles far from the glitz of larger houses. At ALA, a completely different view of topics, panels and vendors revealed themselves. The shifts intrigued me, and it got me to thinking…am I discovering all I can when sticking with my own profession’s resources?
Every month when VOYA, School Library Journal, YALS and Knowledge Quest come to my door, I eagerly scour their pages to discover new ideas and consider new areas of librarianship. But aside from ALA’s magazine, I rarely check in with those journals for Academic or Public librarians. Surely those could be of use to me too. While I’m at it, perhaps I should investigate professional journals for technology instructors, English teachers, college professors, salespersons. What new ideas and insights into trends and needs relevant to my teens am I missing by sticking with my librarian-focused texts?
Occasionally I’ve read issues of Publishers Weekly and the Chronicle of Higher Education, but it’s time to challenge all of us to read outside our professional box. Sure, we are librarians and need to read those journals in our specific fields, but for new ideas and successes to occur in our own fields, we need to look elsewhere too. We are in a field known for helping people find access to the resources they need to accomplish whatever their task may be. But we don’t always follow our own advice.
So ask yourself: Are you serving your own professional development with the same care and thoroughness you would provide another patron? If your answer is “Yes,” then tell us what non-teen library resources you turn to regularly so we can learn too. It’s time for all of us to add works from other professions into our professional development.