You Can’t Learn Everything in Grad School

All things must come to an end. Although I still have one year left in my degree, I’ve already planned out the rest of the courses I will take and when. Working on my schedule has led to feelings of triumph, success, and pride. I found myself looking forward to regular bedtimes, picking up old hobbies, and remembering what life as someone who doesn’t work full time and attend grad classes is like. It felt good—until I realized that after this quarter, I only have one more elective slot left. One! I’ve learned a lot over the past year, but I also learned that there is so much that I still want to learn. I haven’t had time to dive into Human Computer Interaction or User Experience as much as I’d like or improve my information visualization skills; or do that independent study I dreamed of. There’s just no way to fit it all into one degree.

As a field that emphasizes life-long learning, however, we have plentiful chances to keep learning and growing. Below are just a few of our options.

Local Resources

Take advantage of opportunities offered by your library, system, or district! From full-day workshops to watching a webinar with a small group of folks and discussing it afterwards, many areas provide continuing education possibilities in-house.

State Resources

Consider joining your state’s professional association. I’m a member of the Pennsylvania Library Association; and while I haven’t had much time to attend events while in school, I hope to take advantage of their networking and learning opportunities later.

Also take a look at what your State Library can do for you. They may offer workshops on a number of topics around the state for librarians to earn Continuing Education hours. My job requires that I keep up to date on all of the resources available to our residents, so I attend Pennsylvania’s PowerLibrary training at least once a year. They also have webinars available, a number of online resources, and a professional collection that I can utilize. After I graduate, I plan to spend some time at my state library’s makerspace, where they offer programming and education for librarians as well as children, adults, and teachers. Explore what your state offers; chances are they have a plethora of resources that they’re just waiting for you to reach out and take advantage of.

National and Beyond

Continuing your education can be as easy as joining Facebook groups or engaging in Twitter chats.

There are also plentiful library podcasts that will allow you to learn on the go. This post from Megan Keane in 2017 lists a number of favorites.

Continue to hone your thoughts by writing for blogs! Hack Library School frequently looks for guest writers, as do places like the Office of Intellectual Freedom and In the Library with the Lead Pipe. Blogs can also help you to become more comfortable writing and give you the confidence to start publishing your work.

Take online classes! There’s plenty of high-quality, free content out there. WebJunction, provided by OCLC Research, is specifically for libraries. If your library provides Lynda, consider taking courses there (but read up on potential privacy issues first). Codecademy is one of my favorite places to learn basic coding. Don’t forget about the world of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) from sites like EdX, Coursera, and other organizations. I’ve already bookmarked classes on some of the topics I know I won’t get to in this degree (like this Interaction Design specialization, and a course on Grant Writing, and one on eLearning Ecologies).

Like state associations, joining national associations will provide plentiful opportunities for professional development courses and networking. I’m a member of the American Library Association and am going to my first ALA conference later this week! If you haven’t looked into specialized associations for your expertise yet, you may want to do that now and get your feet wet while you can get student pricing. Also take advantage of mentoring opportunities and round tables.

You may be able to get grants or scholarships specifically for continuing education. The Learning Round Table, for example, offers the Pat Carterette Professional Development Grant, which awards funds to help an individual “participate in continuing educational event(s) to keep current in his/her career field.”

Decide you still want more formal education? You can always go back to school. I’m already eyeing Drexel’s Advanced Certificate in Information Studies and Technology.

Sure, I’ll take some time off once I graduate. Read some books for fun, do a puzzle. Still, it won’t be long before something prompts me to learn something new. What do you have your eye on after you graduate?

Kerri is just over halfway through her MSI LIS degree from Drexel University Online. She also serves as a staff development trainer, so she spends a lot of time thinking about continuing education. She can occasionally be found on Twitter at @klmillik.

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

7 replies

  1. As a Life-Long Librarian and a life-long learner, don’t forget about reading books and articles, watching documentaries and historical anything. You never know what you’ll learn and absorb. I’m particularly fond of historic walking tours in my home town and when I travel. Take time to read historic markers, talk to locals, and read, read, read. Whatever you do as a librarian, archivist, or informational professional, don’t stop learning and being open to new ideas.


    • I think that is definitely good advice! When I move for my first MLS career, I think I definitely want to learn the ins and outs of the community and that includes going on historical walking tours.


  2. As a grad student in my final semester I throughly enjoyed your blog post. I want to continue learning beyond my academic degree and am cultivating lists of resources to do so. Thanks for letting me know that I am not alone in my journey of continuous learning.


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