Roots of Professional Development at Rutgers University Libraries


In August 2000 the Libraries published An Investment in Learning: A Proposed Plan for Learning, Training, and Professional Development for the Rutgers University Libraries. The Report documented findings and recommendations of a system-wide steering committee convened in June 1999 by Marianne Gaunt, University Librarian. The Report intended to support successfully achieving the Libraries' goals, along with A Bridge to the Future: The Rutgers Digital Library Initiative. The Report presented ten recommendations designed to facilitate the Libraries' moving to become a "learning organization" while achieving the goals of the DLI I.

The 10 recommendations of the Report:

The needs assessments identified a variety of subject areas for knowledge and skill development, both in "soft" skills and in technical skills. The list of top twenty-five subject areas included sixteen that could be termed "soft" skills. In the early stages of developing the training and learning plans, however, the Training and Learning Advisory Committee decided to focus on technical skill development, while offering some programs in soft skills as well.

The Investment in Learning Report envisioned eight objectives for the emergent professional development process at the Libraries:

Professional Development - The First Three Years

The Libraries hired Marilyn Wilt as the RUL Training and Learning Coordinator in June 2001. Working closely with Samson Soong, Associate University Librarian for Administrative Services, Marilyn convened the first Training and Learning Advisory Committee, and together they developed an initial implementation plan which they called "Explore - Discover - Learn". The plan was designed to support exploring our roles and responsibilities, our functions, our structures, our needs and concerns. In that exploration we would discover skills, information, experiences that we would learn. The understanding that would be manifest as we continued to discover and learn would support our willingness to continue to explore, to try new things. This reflexive process also supports the maintenance of a vibrant learning environment.

The four components of this initial plan:

  1. Team Development Series [now called the Collaborative Development Series] -addressing the development of skills in (a) working with difficult people; (b) problem-solving; (c) decision making; (d) stress management; and (e) managing change. The learning objective for the series: to develop skills and understanding to facilitate working effectively with others to achieve mutually-agreed-upon goals.
  2. Institute for Library Leadership in Digital Environment - as per the IIL Report, develop a three-day institute, with the first target audience being supervisors. The Institute would address the development, support and nurturing of supervisors. As we strengthen their supervisory and leadership skills, we build partnerships with them to support the ongoing development ventures.
  3. Appreciative Portrait of the Libraries - the Training and Learning Coordinator collaborates with each functional area, committee, council, team to develop a portrait of the Libraries. Through a series of facilitated conversations, we would together construct the "portrait," spelling out individual roles and responsibilities, functions, structures. Each would be placed in the picture showing connections to other areas (both within and outside the Libraries), as well as contributions to the successful achievement of the overall goals of the Libraries. We envisioned these conversations as part of a regularly scheduled meeting, to avoid adding further time commitments to everyone's full schedule.
  4. Training and Development Website - moving the website from an archival site to a more interactive one. We would offer T & D calendar and catalog; T & D resources - links to other sites; online tutorials; documentation from completed programs; opportunities to offer suggestions, provide feedback.

After September 11, the Advisory Committee felt it was important to partner with the Committee on Diversity to create an opportunity for us to come together as a community. The program, "Exploring Rutgers University Libraries' Community", provided us with colorful (and delectable) opportunities to learn more about Ramadan, Id al-Fitr, Diwali, Pongal, Chanukah, Winter Solstice, Advent and Christmas, and Kwansaa. In spring 2002, we participated in two satellite conferences-one dealing with virtual reference, one dealing with OCLC open archives metadata harvesting protocol.

Our first venture as a "Leadership Institute" was a partnership with LAMA. We invited Abigail Hubbard to come in April to RUL to facilitate the "Leadership Survival Kit" on two successive days. The Institute's participants were librarians from both Rutgers University and Princeton University. In May we partnered with the Instructional Services Committee in the first of two programs called the "50-Minute Instructor."


The professional development process in 2002-2003 built on the first year's work, and continued to expand programming. The Committee identified two themes around which programs were organized: Leadership Development and Technical Skill Development. We used videoconferencing to expand our reach to both Newark and Camden, although we continued to originate programs in New Brunswick.

We invited colleagues from VALE, SCILS, NJLA, and SLA to join us for a satellite teleconference entitled "Safeguarding our Patrons' Privacy: What Every Librarian Needs to Know about the USA Patriot Act and Related Anti-Terrorism Measures." We partnered with the Public Services Council and the Scholarly and Professional Activities Committee in sponsoring "Where are we going? Alternative models of reference/public service" with Anne Grodzins Lipow as keynote speaker. At the invitation of Marianne Gaunt, we partnered with the RUL Planning Committee in the Digital Future Series: "Preparing for RUL's Digital Future"; "Dealing with Change" [programs in NB and Camden]; "Building Digital New Jersey: Using Dublin Core." All of these programs were intended to develop our knowledge and understanding of key issues confronting libraries today, and were part of the leadership development theme.

On the technical development side, we invited Dr. David Magier, Director of Area Studies, Columbia University Libraries, to facilitate "Advanced Research Strategies on the Internet," and colleagues from Princeton University Libraries joined us for the program. We began our partnership with Marcie Anszperger, Director, Staff Computer Literacy, Teaching Excellence Center, with basic programs in Word and Excel. The Series continues to expand, with us now able to offer programs in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Access on all three campuses, linking to Dana and Robeson via the Polycom equipment. All of the remote site participants have the handouts and demo disks that the New Brunswick participants have to use.

We debuted the Training and Development website, which includes a two-month calendar, a course catalog, links to a variety of T & D resources and tutorials, and a link to Marilyn for feedback and suggestions.


In 2003-04, the RUL training and development activities built on the programming and design of the preceding years to bring further to life An Investment in Learning. The emergent training and development process for the Libraries is grounded in this over-arching mission: to create and maintain a dynamic, vibrant learning environment that supports the successful achievement of both individual and organizational goals. We continue to build upon the two focus areas: leadership development and technical skill development.

With each program, or in each series, we strive to offer the participants the kind of environment that will support their learning-varying the room, the campus, the times as needed to ensure broad accessibility. We continue to re-evaluate the Training and Development website as well to ensure that it is an informative, timely resource for everyone in the RUL community.

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