Librarian-A-Likes are a great professional development opportunity that shouldn't be passed up!
I recently had the pleasure of participating in an IB Librarian-A-Like this week.
I had never been to a job-a-like before, so this was a chance for me to experience what exactly this was.
We discussed common problems, shared ideas & resources and met new people. It's very affordable (I only had to sort out my transportation there and back) to get a professional development in that's also a lot of fun.
There were a few things that I especially liked about this day...
Schedule was Flexible
This was fantastic. It allowed for discussions to flow without there being pressure to stop because we have to move onto the next topic. This also encouraged conversation to flow into completely different topics, which was great. We ended up sharing resources and people volunteered their wisdom freely.
It may sound like I'm obsessed with flexibility, based on these first two points, but seriously, flexibility is the best. We started off in a circle which is great for chatting but I liked that it was made clear at the beginning that we were free to move tables and chairs to better facilitate whatever activity was going on. Often when I've gone to workshops in the past this is a lot more rigid which makes it hard to move around and meet everyone. This typically results in you talking mostly to the people beside you only when half of fun of these events is meeting new people and learning from their experiences.
Additionally, I felt that it immediately made things feel more relaxed. With everyone feeling more comfortable it wasn't intimidating to start up conversations with the strangers around you.
This was created for us as a space to share resources and to get documents ahead of time before the event starts. It's really easy to use and documents can continue to be added afterwards. I already had an account which allows you to get email notifications when something is added. That makes it really easy to keep track of, you don't have to check back.
Participant List Was Prepared for Us
I can't tell you how annoying it is to go to an event, meet awesome people and then realize that you've forgotten their names. With a participant list that's created ahead of time for you, not only is it excellent for connecting with people afterwards, but also secretly during the event you can check on your phone/lap top what people's names are. No one will be the wiser and it looks like you're excellent at remembering names after everyone's name tags start wearing off.
A Mistake I made, that You shouldn't make
Bring a burning question! A lot of workshops, trainings, etc. allow for people to anonymously and voluntarily write out a problem they're having or something they just want to learn more about. I always forget about this, and then when I get to whatever event it is I can't think of one, then the instant I get back to my library I can recall 100 questions I would have loved to ask. Before going on any professional development, whether they have a burning question session or not, think of questions! It's likely that you'll be able to work one or two into a discussion, or you'll meet someone experienced that can help you.
I would love to organize one of these in the future. I think this was a really productive and effective way to meet new people and solve common problems. I feel lucky that we had such an experienced librarian leading the day for us. If you have a chance to participate in an event like this, don't pass it up.