Employees at the Professional Development Committee Kick-Off Event
August 22, 2016

UCR Library’s Professional Development Committee (PDC) held its kick-off event on Wednesday, August 17, 2016. More than half of the library’s academic and staff employees came to one of the two sessions, held in Rivera and Orbach libraries.

The PDC comprises Library employees who volunteered to participate in cultivating opportunities for professional development. With members from the various employee groups (represented, non-represented, academic, non-academic, supervisor, non-supervisor), the PDC is positioned to advise Library Administration on an array of diverse professional development needs. This unique endeavor has the full support of Library Administration who looks forward to this feedback from employees.

“I was interested in hearing what type of professional development philosophies might come up,” explained Jacqueline Bates, Financial and Acquisitions Analyst. “Working with people to identify the best programs for them is vital. People are much more likely to engage fully and derive real benefit from any type of training and development program if they understand why the program is valuable and can contribute to their ability to do their job well. I am pleased that the Library envisions an idea that when you energize people to be at their best and make a positive difference, the organization will indeed obtain organizational excellence.”

At the top of the hour, PDC Chair Leslie Settle welcomed the group. Committee members guided employees through a peer-to-peer brainstorming session, with the goal of identifying professional development needs. “The warm-up exercises got our minds thinking and mental states in tune with sharing,” said Christy Brown Anderson, Monographs Receiving Assistant.

The session continued with an interactive, visual facilitation exercise with employees posting their suggestions, by category, onto the wall. Categories included: Customer Service, Leadership, Communication, Teamwork, Technology, and Diversity.

Similar to a silent auction, employees used stickers to select the development opportunities they felt would have the greatest impact. “It was great to see everyone’s ideas up on the wall,” said Carla Arbagey, Electronic Resources Librarian. “And to see which ideas got the most votes.” The PDC also sent out an email survey to solicit input from employees who were unable to attend the kick-off.

Popular recommendations included:

  • Cross-training and job shadowing in other units, to better understand workflows
  • Communication skills
  • Sensitivity training (diversity and microaggressions)
  • Conflict management
  • Customer service
  • Project management
  • Grant and proposal writing

 “I saw it as an opportunity to interact with staff members that I don’t typically work with, and to hear different ideas and perspectives about what others need to improve their knowledge base and grow professionally,” explained Eric Milenkiewicz, Manuscripts Curator. “I liked the collaborative nature of the event, specifically when the group came together as a collective to surface common professional development needs across the library.”

“I was interested in hearing what colleagues in other departments are looking for out of our organization, and where our goals and desires intersect,” said Alexandra Dolan-Mescal, Web Developer and User-Interface Designer. “I would love to partake in collaborative professional development rather than just individual, as I have so far. I greatly enjoyed the small groups talking through individual cards and grouping them together, as it showed clearly how similar our interests are and how there are categories of professional development interests that could be explored programmatically.”

“I like to be an active member of our library staff,” explained E-Resources Librarian Carla Arbagey. “I’m also interested in continuing my own professional development, so I was eager to see what kind of activities the committee was planning.”

Monographs Receiving Assistant Christy Brown Anderson was also curious about what the session might entail. “I wanted to take the opportunity to see what learning topics others were interested in, as well as be able to contribute to that,” she said. “I had wondered before the event whether there would be a focus on the technical or performance type of skills needed for the efficient and successful operation of the library, or on more visionary topics.”

“The Professional Development Committee is excited that our first peer-to-peer brainstorming session was a success. These sessions proved to be a benefit to everyone involved and allowed us a unique opportunity to suggest to Library HR what training and development we would like to see in this upcoming fiscal year,” stated Leslie Settle, Circulation Services Desk Supervisor and PDC Chair. “The post-it notes we collected represented our voice and we are privileged to draft a proposal that will encompass the voice of the team.”

Library Human Resources looks forward to crafting an implementation plan  from the PDC’s proposal. “Library employees are engaged – driving their professional development. And Library leadership actively supports a culture of collaboration, creativity and learning,” said Lisa Dye, Director, Organizational Design and Human Resources. “It’s a win-win. It’s organizational excellence.”

Keeping with the strategic plan, University Librarian Steven Mandeville-Gamble is committed to providing development opportunities to all levels of library employees. His vision, and that of Library Administration, is to empower library employees to continue to build their skill sets and develop into contemporary professionals who contribute to UCR Library’s identity as an Association of Research Libraries organization. The Professional Development Committee will play a vital role by empowering library employees with a voice to propose solutions in a collaborative setting.

Future suggestions for professional development are welcome, and employees are encouraged to submit ideas to the Professional Development Committee via email at: professionaldevelopment@ucr.edu.