Lifelong Learning

Library Musings

During a webinar I recently attended, I learned about the Nebraska Learns 2.0 program.  Essentially, this program was put in place back in 2009 to encourage librarians in Nebraska (and other states) to actively explore the different tools available online for libraries and their patrons.  I have to admit, this is a great idea, and I wish I knew of a similar program here in Texas to be able to do the same thing.  But, since the Nebraska Learns 2.0 content is available online and you are welcome to join in (although without continuing education credit) from any state, I thought, “Why not?”

That being said, I decided to start at the beginning.  So, I’ve gone back to the archives of 2009 to find the original 23 Things, plus all the other Things (the list is now at 80, I think) that have been mentioned.  While I know that not all of these resources will still be relevant, or even still around, I thought it would be an interesting journey to see what has held up over the past 5 years and what has changed.  Plus, as I get further along, I’ll be able to see the more “current” things and add them to my repertoire as well.  Which brings us to:  Thing #3:  Grab yourself a blog in three easy steps.

Well, I’m already ahead of the game with this one.  I established an account with WordPress years ago, but now I’m ready to really start taking advantage of it and more fully explore the blogging world.  My blog doesn’t really have a name, since it’s associated with my professional portfolio, but it does have a template and a dedicated page, so I think we’re good to go.  So, moving ahead to the discovery exercise, in which I actually create my first blog post.  Following the recommendation of the program, I’m going to take a little time to talk about lifelong learning.

The Nebraska Learns 2.0 program started out with the 7 1/2 Principles of Highly Successful Lifelong Learners, as presented by the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County.  I have to admit, I found the list fascinating.  I’ve always considered myself a lifelong learner. I love learning new things. I love taking classes online, attending discussions, learning from those around me, and constantly building my skills.  But, I hadn’t really taken the time to really define what lifelong learning meant.  Instead of talking about which habit is easiest for me, and which is hardest, I’d like to look at each of the habits individually and just take a minute to reflect on the whole lifelong learning process.

Habit 1:  Begin with the end in mind.  I have to admit, this one is a little challenging for me.  A lot of the time, I look at learning as an in-the-moment opportunity – what can I learn right now?  What is interesting to me right now?  What will help me do my job better right now?  You get the idea.  But, I think this habit really made me think.  Instead of looking at the immediate gratification, it’s time to think about the bigger picture.  What is the greater plan?  How is what I’m learning now going to help me in the long run?  How does it contribute to my greater professional plan, or even just the specific project that I’m working on?  I think what I need to focus on here is not learning for the sake of learning, but learning with a specific purpose.

Habit 2:  Accept responsibility for your own learning.  To me, this one is obvious. I have to be willing to put in the time and effort to learn.  I have to be willing to seek out the opportunities.  I have to be willing to recognize what I need to learn and accept when I need to ask for help.  If I’m not responsible for my own learning, no one will be.

Habit 3:  View problems as challenges.  I think this is something that I’ve heard often in my professional career.  Instead of looking at problems, we should be looking at the solutions and what we can learn from the situation.  While I know this is not always easy to do (and I admit that I’m human and sometimes have days when problems just seem insurmountable), I love the idea of looking at problems as a challenge and digging into the toolbox to see what I have that can address the specific concern.  It makes it into a process, instead of a roadblock.

Habit 4:  Have confidence in yourself as a competent, effective learner.  I think you have to believe that you can do it in order to do it.  I’ve been hesitant before to try new things because I was afraid that I wouldn’t be any good at them.  Instead of being afraid of doing new things, I’ve learned to be confident that I can learn and adapt and take on new challenges, because that is where I grow the most.

Habit 5:  Create your own learning toolbox.  This is something that I think I’m fairly good at.  I’m a stickler for keeping notes and information about trainings I attend, and I often find myself making notes of where I can apply something in the future.  The more I learn, the more I store away to put to good use later.  I think this also comes into knowing where I can find learning opportunities. I’ve learned to make use of conferences, webinars, online courses, and even personal experiences to make the most of every learning opportunity that I get.

Habit 6:  Use technology to your advantage.  I think we can all agree that we are in a technologically advanced age.  I’ve found that technology can be a real benefit in allowing me to learn more than I might be able to otherwise.  I can attend virtual classes, view webinars from people in other states, or even consult blogs and websites to find out more from others.  The information and technology are out there, so I hope to make the most of them to continue to grow and learn.  I consider this adventure a case in point.

Habit 7:  Teach/mentor others.  I was once told that the best way to learn something was to teach it to someone else, and that’s something that I have tried to continue doing.  If I have a great technology that I think would benefit someone else, then I want to share that.  I love the joy of being able to share even a part of what I’ve learned with someone else at the point of need, to be able to solve someone else’s problem with something from my toolkit.  Even more, I find that I learn more from those that I’m teaching because they force me to look at things in different ways and from different angles.

“You cannot help but learn more as you take the world into your hands.  Take it up reverently, for it is an old piece of clay, with millions of thumbprints on it.”  ~ John Updike


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