Valerie Taylor, Director of Professional Development for the Special Libraries Association, provided an overview of the continuing education opportunities provided by SLA. SLA established an Education Committee in 1960 and held its first association-wide education programs in 1969, in conjunction with the 60th Annual Conference, and an official Professional Development program, adhering to the high quality standards of the International Association for Continuing Education and Training, was put in place in 1977. Today, the program has six components:
The cost of the educational programs varies, according to the length and type of program. For example, the workbook for a self-study course averages $60, while full-day CE courses may run $195. Taylor advised information professionals to develop an individual learning plan, complete with objectives, expectations, and follow-up reports to management as a way of selling employers on the value of continuing education.
Trends Over the past five years, there has been a large increase in the number of technology-related courses offered, and attendance in these courses in 1996 was 700% more than in 1992. There has been a rise in attendance for financial management courses, with outsourcing and library financing basics being two hot topics. Leadership courses have maintained their popularity, while courses in more general library management topics have been less of a draw.
Respondents to SLA's 1996 Super Survey of members identified the five top program topics of interest to them: new technologies, advanced technology, library management, software applications, and marketing. 81% indicated they were likely or very likely to attend educational seminars, while 65.6% were definitely or likely to attend computer-based training sessions. SLA expects to offer a balanced program of in-person and distance learning programs to maximize members' interests. Details on these programs may be found on SLA's web site: http://www.sla.org.
Nancy L. Minter
Director, Library and Information Services
The Urban Institute
2100 M Street, NW
Washington, DC 20037