I have been pondering involvement with professional bodies for some time now, and thought I would muse via a blog post to force me to pin some thoughts down. I also wanted to think about those with time constraints and those that do not belong to a professional body, and the challenges that face them.
Professional development (PD) is a common phrase when discussing participation in professional activities outside of the workplace. In line with my recent trend of getting bogged down in semantics, I feel that this provides a very one-sided view, and suggests that only the individual will benefit from their involvement; developing their CV without helping others.
I would therefore like to point out (something that is probably obvious) how professional development activities can help and assist others too. In this sense, I make reference to something I would like to call “developing the profession” as opposed to the traditional professional development.
Tangible Vs Intangible Involvement
**additional thought dated 24/10/2011* These terms may be better referred to as demonstrable and it’s antonym (which currently eludes me).*
When you become involved in a seminar, a board, attend a course, or simply express an interest in something that is happening outside of your workplace, it is not only you who benefits. This is demonstrated in two ways; tangible and intangible involvement.
If an event has been organised, or a newsletter published, then the benefits to others are clear – you have something tangible that you are providing.
However, there are other ways to aid the profession, and not just through involvement with professional bodies. Simply by keeping up to date with current developments in libraries (there are no shortage of them) can be a great way to help the profession, your organisation and yourself. The enthusiasm gained from current awareness may begin to rub off within a team or onto peers, being aware of current affairs can make you a strong advocate for the profession, and strengthen your confidence in what you do on a day to day basis – intangible benefits.
This enthusiasm can ensure that jobs remain fresh, and new ideas and advancements can be brought into a workplace creating exciting projects, or helping to re-examine the best way to achieve a daily necessity. In a similar way to how networking events can introduce new ideas, or how seminars can ignite thoughts, awareness and passion will reflect back into your job and on those around you – thereby fulfilling one of the main purposes of professional development.
Despite the enjoyment that full involvement within a body provides, it can be time consuming and therefore not possible for all, but broadening the PD remit to include a bit of enthusiasm and help for the profession at large can help to provide a similar sense of satisfaction. By simply attending an event, or discussing current LIS affairs, if one can prompt others to read a blog post or newspaper article, or even just enjoy their day a little bit more, then that is still a success.
So think not of professional development as a singular term, rather link it to the wider remit of developing a profession.