Thesis (Ph.D., Leadership and Counseling) -- University of Idaho, 2016 | Changes in the academic library landscape necessitate continual professional development for academic librarians. Shifting technologies, data formats, and patron needs have led to emerging and varied tracks of librarianship, a trend which requires librarians to seek out methods for keeping current in the profession. The library literature offers a plethora of advice about how to keep skills and knowledge up-to-date in this rapidly changing environment. Yet few large-scale studies have sought to identify the experiences of academic librarians as they seek out and participate in professional development that they consider to be especially meaningful or transformational to their careers as librarians.
This study uses a hermeneutic phenomenological approach to understand the essences of meaningful and transformational professional development experiences as identified by academic librarians themselves. In it, ten participants discuss their experiences with professional development activities that they believe had a meaningful or transformational impact on themselves and their careers. These experiences are analyzed for common themes that may help those interested in professional development understand the essence of meaningful or transformational activities. Themes that emerge powerfully from the participants’ stories include duration and interaction, reflection, discomfort, self-awareness, impact on practice, and sharing. In addition, participants discuss heavily issues of motivation, library administration, gaps in library school preparation, negative professional development, and barriers to participation. Together, these themes help to capture some of the essence of meaningful and transformational professional development experienced by academic librarians.