This study was undertaken to better understand the range of learning practices that academic librarians use throughout their careers, and to explore the ways library schools give students the opportunities to engage in learning methods that they are likely to use in their careers as librarians. The study uses semi-structured interviews with academic librarians to explore their experiences of learning in library school, as new librarians, and later as they advanced through their careers. The study found that learning is an ongoing and essential aspect of librarianship, and that it is generally self-directed, informal, highly dependent on social interactions with peers, and embedded in practice. Participants in the study reported that most of what they needed to know was learned once they started working as librarians, and that their library school experience did little to prepare them for these ways of learning. The study also found that the conceptual model of communities of practice provides a useful perspective for understanding the learning of librarians and for designing a library school experience that is more effective at preparing students for their future careers as librarians. Implications for library school curriculum and course design are discussed.

Additional Metadata
Keywords academic librarians, communities of practice, continuing professional development, informal learning, non-formal learning, peer-to-peer networks, Professional education
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.3233/EFI-150949
Journal Education for Information
Citation
Bilodeau, E, & Carson, P. (Pamela). (2015). The role of communities of practice in the professional education of academic librarians. Education for Information, 31(1-2), 25–51. doi:10.3233/EFI-150949