Technology, Collaboration, and Learning: Perceptions and Effectiveness of US Public Library Staff Professional Development


  • Michael Stephens School of Information San Jose State University
  • Stacey A Mitchell
  • Ari Zickau



organizational development, learning, staff development, public libraries


The primary purpose of this study was to investigate the preferences and perceptions of professional development (PD) activities for public library staff. The survey instrument was distributed to public librarians and paraprofessionals throughout the United States. Beyond the challenges of time and money, a picture emerged from the data of what might best serve the needs of librarians and paraprofessionals for PD. Staff want to feel encouraged and supported about learning for their jobs. The chance to network and meet in groups is preferred by most respondents with short webinars and online learning filling in the gaps, especially if content goes beyond the usual introductory level. From these findings, it is possible to suggest three “action plans” for improving PD for public library professionals and paraprofessionals. These plans include: developing structured and supported PD programs as part of public library administration, promoting a culture of learning throughout the institution, and participating in and contributing to state and regional opportunities for PD of public library staff.

Author Biographies

Michael Stephens, School of Information San Jose State University

Dr. Michael Stephens is Associate Professor in the School of Information at San José State University.

Stacey A Mitchell

Business Reference Associate at Kansas City (MO) Public Library and a graduate of San Jose State University's School of Information

Ari Zickau

Public librarian specializing in creative adult programming and outreach in Boise, ID and a graduate of San Jose State University's School of Information






Peer Reviewed