Specialized Regional Conferences Support the Professional Development Needs of Subject Librarians: A 5-Year Analysis of the Great Lakes Science Boot Camps for Librarians

Bethany McGowan, Jenny Hart, Karen Hum

Abstract

Conference attendance can play an important role in supporting the professional development of subject librarians by offering opportunities that allow librarians to learn about new services, strategies, and technologies while growing and maintaining professional networks. However, barriers such as accessibility challenges, budgetary and resource restrictions, difficulty measuring learning gains, and difficulty measuring the value of professional development when applied to the job can restrict opportunities for many librarians. Specialized regional conferences have the potential to reduce many of these barriers. How can librarians, library administrators, and conference organizers quantify the value of regional conference attendance as an accessible means for fostering librarian professional development? This paper examines five years of assessment data and participant feedback from attendees of a specialized regional conference for STEM librarians and measures participant learning and participant motivation for conference attendance. We propose specialized regional conferences, such as the Great Lakes Science Boot Camp for Librarians, as accessible and affordable continuing education opportunities that support the professional development of subject librarians.

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