Tips on Creating a Professional Development Plan

Tips on Creating a Professional Development Plan

I learned from my mentor Twanna Hodge to plan my professional development for the year. She shared with me her personal Excel spreadsheet, which had four sections: 

  • Conferences
  • Funding
  • Institutes, workshops, trainings
  • Local, state, and regional organizations


The Conferences section has Location, Dates, Links to More Information, Registration Fee, Hotel, and Transportation columns. Having this section is helpful to see how I can use my professional development funding for the fiscal year. Also, this is a great way to remember that some conferences convene biannually or every four years. Furthermore, knowing the location of the meetings you want to attend is critical because some places will cost you more to attend. 


The Funding section has Deadline, Amount, Link, and Recipient columns. The pandemic has led many academic libraries to cut or take away professional development budgets. Having the funding section is a great way to keep track of these professional development grants and scholarships. Even with this funding, I am aware that not everyone can get the grant or scholarship needed; unfortunately, this is the reality of our profession. Hopefully, going forward, we will continue to see an increase in free virtual conferences, webinars, and trainings, so we won’t have to continue to rely on our professional development budgets to get the training that we need. I hope that this will be an equitable new normal. 

Institutes, Workshops, Trainings

The Institutes, Workshops, Trainings section has Location, Length, Amount, Link, and Funding Availability columns. Besides conferences, there are institutes, workshops, and trainings that librarians can attend to gain necessary specific skills. For instance, as a health sciences librarian, I attended the virtual Evidence-Based Practice for the Medical Librarian course hosted by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Understanding evidence-based practice is an essential part of my job since I support nursing students learning about evidence-based practice

Local, State, and Regional Organizations

The Local, State, and Regional organizations section has Name, Date, and Link to More Information columns. There are many library organizations in our local areas, and they have conferences and trainings as well. Being a part of these organizations and associations is an excellent way to network, present, and serve on a committee. The first library committee that I served on was for the Academic and Special Libraries Section of the New York Library Association. Being on this committee was an excellent opportunity to understand how committee work was done. In addition, traveling to a local, regional, or state conference can be more cost-effective. 

These are just suggestions on how you can organize your professional development plan. Feel free to add or take away whatever aspect of this template that you see fit. Happy professional development planning!

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