A (sort of) Professional Development Plan, Maybe?

This was the final for my Information Sources & Services class, it goes into a lot of detail about what I want to do as a librarian. I don’t have a picture for this post, so here’s my desk buddy, Kirby.

Professional Development Plan

Career Goal
Video Game Librarian/Educational Consultant/Researcher

Job Description/Explanation

     My future career doesn’t exist as far as I can see, but it does exist in parts or for moments. The goal of the Video Game Librarian will be to help build the connection between education and video games. It will be their responsibility to provide support to video game developers for real world classroom applications of their games. As technology advances and becomes (has become) so ingrained in our daily lives, so must the education of our young people advance. It is imperative to include technology in the classroom so that young people are prepared for careers outside of school.
     Children learn through active engagement, video games exploit this, why can’t the classroom exploit video games? Teachers can use specially created video games to assist in teaching children in ways that they are excited to learn. The more receptive children are to the learning environment, the more knowledge they will retain. This has already been done on a smaller scale in the past with math tutoring games and other CD-ROMs like Carmen SanDiego. There are tons of learning apps for smart devices out there that are trying to do this, but they lack a cohesiveness that could be attributed to not having a person to be that bridge between educational and fun. The purpose of the Video Game Librarian is to be that bridge.
     Video game developers create entire worlds that engage audiences for hours unending. Games have had a hand in teaching children to read, earlier and faster than ever before. They teach hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, puzzle solving, relationship building, and consequences from choices and actions. And that is just what they teach now. Video games made for the classroom can go so much further. Public libraries already use games as a way to engage their patrons and to build community connections. Schools can do this too, and on a much bigger scale. In my opinion, video games are a form of literature and it’s one that has not come close to meeting its potential.

Skills & Competencies Needed

  • Master’s Degree of Library Science or equivalent 
  • Commitment to the education of children and young adults 
  • Recognizes the necessity of culturally and demographically relevant and accurate information and representation in the learning tool (game) creation and development processes 
  • Understands learning, literacy and brain development theories as they relate to children and young adults 
  • Understands current educational practices and is committed to the updating and adaption of these practices for the advancement of children and young adults 
  • Assists in the creation of learning tools (games) that are fun, engaging and conducive to learning the goal material 
  • Provides easily accessible support materials for educators, teachers, parents and children to use 
  • Engages the community (testers) during development to ensure that the learning tool meets the standards of: being useful, working as intended, being culturally and demographically sensitive, and being relevant to the intended audience 
  • Engages co-workers in all areas to act as a bridge and ensure the best product for the audience is developed 
  • Demonstrates understanding of children’s and young adult literature and education standards 
  • Understands how to create a lesson plan for classroom or library use 
  • Understands that everyone has a right to an education, and that representation in learning materials is a necessity 
  • Stays up-to-date on resources relevant to children’s and young adult education and entertainment including: books, apps, games and other media 
  • Responds to challenges of learning tools (games) with understanding and care 
  • Supports access to users of diverse backgrounds by implementing a sliding cost 
  • Understands the importance of public-relations and demonstrates effective communication with customers, community and others on official social media accounts and through the company website 
  • Communicates well in differing group sizes from one-on-one meetings to large groups, in person and online 
  • Actively sets goals for the development team and assists in schedule planning to meet those goals 
  • Actively seeks out grant opportunities 
  • Evaluates self, team and project consistently to ensure best practices 
  • Researches learning goals for each project and communicates those with the team 
  • “Demonstrates critical-thinking, problem-solving, decision-making, and mediation skills and techniques” (ALSC 2017). 
  • “Delegates responsibility appropriately and supervises staff constructively” (ALSC 2017). 
  • Participates in writing job descriptions, recruiting, interviewing, training, evaluating, and encouraging continuing education for staff when appropriate 
  • “Advocates for recruitment, hiring, and retention efforts to increase diversity in the workplace” (ALSC 2017). 
  • “Works to eliminate discrimination, exclusion, and ethnocentrism in the workplace” (ALSC 2017). 
  • “Develops an understanding of her or his own personal and cultural values, beliefs, and sociocultural identities, including racial, class, and gender identities, as a first step in appreciating the importance of culturally diverse identities in the workplace and wider community” (ALSC 2017). 
  • “Develops an understanding of the effects of racism, ethnocentrism, classism, heterosexism, genderism, ableism, and other systems of discrimination and exclusion within the profession, and of techniques for disrupting them and promoting cultural competence” (ALSC 2017). 
  • “Knows and practices the ALA’s Code of Ethics” (ALSC 2017). 
  • “Mentors library-school students, paraprofessionals, and new librarians” (ALSC 2017). 
  • “Participates in local, state, and national professional organizations to strengthen skills, interact with fellow professionals, promote professional association scholarships, and contribute to the library profession” (ALSC 2017). 
  • “Advocates for, participates in, and provides educational and training programs that help advance cultural competency within the profession” (ALSC 2017). 
  • Demonstrate an understanding or willingness to learn coding languages 
  • Demonstrates a love of video games and learning 

Skills & Competencies I Have

     Most of the skills and competencies that I have are things that need to be continually built upon to stay relevant. The only skills I have that will always stay relevant, are my willingness to learn something new and my critical-thinking and problem-solving skills. I want to learn new things and I want to always be challenging myself. If I am to be a good bridge builder, I need to always be willing to learn from both sides to help create the best possible product. That’s what I bring to the table, my willingness to say, “I didn’t know that” and then learn from that experience. As for critical-thinking and problem-solving a big part of that is being able to research and learn something new. I am good at learning. What we know about the science of brain development, educational standards and practices, our understandings of different demographics and cultures, and coding languages are changing and growing, so to stay relevant I must also change and grow. To claim that I have a set list of skills relevant to this profession would be to become complacent and the video game and education industries are not a place for complacency.

Skills I Should Learn & How to Learn Them

     Besides completing my MLS, I also need to learn some coding. It has been suggested that I learn Python, so I’m going to start with that. There are lots of free learning programs out there for Python and I will use one or two of them to help me learn. I will also keep asking friends in the gaming industry what tools are currently the best, so that my education stays relevant. Some skills, I have but require consistent learning to stay relevant. These skills include: staying up-to-date with children’s and young adult media and education, maintaining an understanding and advocating for multicultural and demographic representation and employment, and taking part in librarianship, education and game development training programs.

How to Demonstrate Skills

     Many of the required skills are an attitude, rather than a learned practice. In this way, skills can be demonstrated by answering of typical interview questions. Prospective employers can also (and probably will) take a look at my public social media accounts to get a feel for the kind of person I am and what I advocate for. They could ask for a copy of my current transcripts to see my grades. From that they could learn how I am at prioritizing in my life. I would welcome questions on how I keep organized, how I respond in emotionally charged situations, etc. For other skills, like coding, prospective employers could ask for certifications or a test could be administered. In my case, since I don’t know any coding, I could voice my eagerness to learn on-the-job to provide support for future co-workers.

Projection for Intended Progress
     I am going to apply to a number of companies that have open applications (applications not for a specific job) with my resume, a copy of my transcripts and planned classes, and a cover letter describing what I want to do with the company. I will start sending out applications in October, about six months before I could get back to the states. I hope that some company will take a chance on this because I truly believe that a librarian would make the best bridge builder between education and video game development. Until then, I will continue to work towards this goal by taking up coding, keeping up with current education trends and literature for children and young adults. My focus for my education in Young Adult Librarianship, so if this does not pan out as I hope, I can do something else I would love, being a YA librarian in a public library. However, if this does work out, I could expect to be working in my intended career as early as April 2019.

ALA. “Knowledge and Competencies Statements.” Knowledge and Competencies Statements. April 16, 2018. http://www.ala.org/educationcareers/careers/corecomp/corecompspecial/knowledgecompetencies.
Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC). “Competencies for Librarians Serving Children in Public Libraries.” Competencies for Librarians Serving Children in Public Libraries. May 19, 2017. http://www.ala.org/alsc/edcareeers/alsccorecomps.

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