My library, like libraries everywhere, has had to evaluate and re-evaluate and re-re-evaluate where we are putting our money. One of the pluses to dwindling funds is that it forces you to select what is truly important, which of your community’s needs are of utmost priority? Programs, collections, staff salaries, outreach, facilities . . . where should the money go? Too often, one of the first line items to be cut is staff training. Seen as a nice plus, more often than not, boards and even library staff do not place this item in the top tier for funding. Instead, it is something that is done if there is money. I say that philosophy is hogwash. In person training provides opportunities that no other training can offer, and it is vital to the growth of your library.
Training, especially in this day and age of fast changes and even faster technology, is a necessity, not a want or a desire – a must have necessity. And for those working in isolated, rural or small libraries who do not often have access to in-house or collobrative training, it is even more urgent. Think of the benefits of an in person training day – you get your batteries recharged, you get to talk to and hear about wonderful, new and exciting ideas that others in your situation are accomplishing and ask them how did they do that? You have the chance to build your network of experts whom you can contact over the next year and bounce ideas off of and share opportunities for online training. It is a time to immerse yourself, even for a day, in the pool of “What we could do”.
The ARSL conference is coming up in a month. This conference is designed for you – the library staff and board members working in small, rural, perhaps isolated places who want to infuse some new ideas, network with new friends and ask quetions of those who are doind what you want to do. I know that budgets are tight, that travel money is difficult to come by, but I believe that you will not find a better bang for your buck. There is little Theory here – it is substance, practical and down to earth. I encourage you to talk to your board, your Friends, your rich uncle and get yourself to this conference. It is an investment in your professional life and in the life of your library that I believe you will find pays big returns in the coming months. You can not afford to miss this opportunity.
See you in Frisco, Texas!