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Career planning using RUSA’s Professional Competencies

CHICAGO — Reference and user services librarians need to be in charge of their own careers. And when it comes to their own professional development, that means being proactive. “Competency-Based Career Planning for Reference and User Services Professionals,” published by ALA Editions, will enable professionals at every stage of their careers to honestly assess their skills and knowledge. Utilizing the RUSA (Reference and User Services Association) Professional Competencies as a framework for reflecting on strengths as well as gaps in expertise, it guides readers through developing strategies to enhance their professional standing and potential, thereby leading to a more satisfying career. In this book former RUSA president Jo Bell Whitlatch, who chaired the initial committee establishing the Competencies, teams up with expert trainer Beth S. Woodard to:

  • introduce the seven categories of the RUSA Professional Competencies, explaining the ways in which each is important to both practitioner and institution;
  • demonstrate how to create a personal development plan that focuses on development priorities;
  • discuss the Association for Talent Development (ATD) Competency Development Model and other action plans;
  • offer guidance for setting goals and measuring progress;
  • share information on a variety of development activities that readers can undertake to maintain and enhance professional competencies, including formal training opportunities, on-the-job experiences, and self-directed initiatives; and
  • provide recommended self-evaluation techniques such as writing up notes from group discussions, exercises, short verbal and written reports, crafting presentations on a topic, and sharing concrete examples of how skills were applied in the workplace.

Whitlatch has worked in three academic libraries in many areas and has also taught at San Jose State University’s Graduate School of Library and Information Science. A past president of the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA), her publications include two books, “The Role of the Academic Reference Librarian” and “Evaluating Reference Services,” and articles in Reference & User Services Quarterly, College & Research Libraries, Journal of Academic Librarianship, and The Reference Librarian. Woodard has been an academic reference librarian for her whole career but developed deep interests in staff development and training and teaching when she coordinated a separate information desk staffed by graduate assistants. From training a dozen graduate assistants to coordinating an orientation program for 75 graduate assistants at the University of Illinois Library at Urbana-Champaign, she developed staff training programs, retreats, and wellness activities for the entire library—for librarians, academic professionals, and support staff in addition to graduate and undergraduate students. She is currently teaching reference and library management at the iSchool at UIUC.

ALA Store purchases fund advocacy, awareness and accreditation programs for library professionals worldwide. ALA Editions and ALA Neal-Schuman publishes resources used worldwide by tens of thousands of library and information professionals to improve programs, build on best practices, develop leadership, and for personal professional development. ALA authors and developers are leaders in their fields, and their content is published in a growing range of print and electronic formats. Contact ALA Editions at (800) 545-2433 ext. 5052 or [email protected].

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