My Work in the Library

The following are prompts to help you think about and reflect on your work in libraries:

  • Thinking back, why did I choose this work?
  • What/Who inspires me in Libraries and in my work?
  • What feedback do I treasure about my work?
  • What is the contribution the Library makes?
  • What are the top issues facing Libraries?
  • How do these/might these impact my role? How do I feel, what do I think about them?
  • What can the Library do in collaboration with others?
  • How can the Library fulfill its potential?
  • What do I see as the Value of my role?
  • What is the purpose of my role?
  • What’s my dream for the Library?
  • How can I contribute to this?

My Learning and How I Like to Learn


This section explores my relationship to teaching and learning by reflecting on personal experiences of learning. The following are some prompts to help you:

  • What of my past experiences influences my teaching and learning?
  • Write a paragraph (200 words) under the following title: My Development and Learning Journey so Far: A Personal Reflection.
  • What are my Reflections of Learning that impacted me?
  • Who are the Teachers that Inspired me?
  • Are there Librarians who Inspire me? How?
  • What Skills, Attitudes, Qualities and Emotions do I associate with being an effective Librarian who teaches?

Reflective Practice

Reflective Practice is a key element to learning and therefore to our professional development as library staff who teach.

“We do not learn from experience. We learn from reflection on experience”

– Dewey

Click here for information on how Reflective Practice can help you in your professional development.




Prompts Towards a Library Philosophy Statement



Meaning of “Philosophy”

  • “A particular system of ideas or beliefs relating to the general scheme of existence and the universe; a philosophical system or theory”. (Definition 6b)
  • “‘Philosophy’ should be best understood as an intellectual and mental activity. It allows one to activate and stimulate one’s mind to reflect, critically assess and evaluate all human experiences and interests”.


Why Have a Statement of Philosophy?

  • It is a summary of your understanding of the value and purpose of your work.
  • It represents and codifies our thinking.
  • It encourages reflection on our practice and role.
  • Readers/organisation can be assured that the people they are working with have reflected, thought about and engaged with their practice.

Why might Library Staff have one?

  • To remind ourselves of our practice, why we work in Libraries, and to engage with the ‘big picture’.
  • As a way to explore and engage with our practice as Library Staff and to learn and develop.
  • In instances, having a philosophy statement may be important for accreditation, getting the work we want and promotion.

Having a Philosophy Statement…

  • Defines a personal standard
  • Anchors practice
  • Highlights your goals and achievements

A Philosophy Statement may be a Benchmark for:

  • Appropriateness of your methods
  • Scope of your activities
  • Effectiveness
  • Your impact

Library Philosophy

  • A statement about your sense of Library practice.
  • May be a helpful place to start especially if the working of the PDF challenges your sense of Library work and your identity as a member of Library Staff.
  • It is also possible to develop more specific ones such as looking at your work through the lens of teaching OR include your approach to teaching and learning in the general statement.

Take the time to write your Library Philosophy Statement.
Keep this and read it from time to time.
Capture and reflect on it and your experience over time.


Questions prompts regarding your Library Philosophy

  • What is the purpose of the Library?
  • How do I think the Library makes a difference (or does not make a difference)?
  • Task: Look up and research the role and purpose of Libraries, do you think they are changing?
  • What challenges and opportunities are Libraries facing?
  • How can I help with this?
  • What is the purpose of my role?
  • How do I think my role will change?
  • What is my personal mission in the Library?
  • What is the value of the Library?
  • How do I see the relationship between Libraries and learning?
  • How do I see the relationship between Libraries and ‘teachers’?
  • How do I see the relationship between Libraries and ‘academics’?
  • How does this align with the library and organisational mission and goals?
  • What are my values around my practice in the Library?
  • How do I keep my practice up to date?
  • What feedback do I get to inform and develop my practice?

Prompts Towards a Library Teaching Philosophy





Video content: Short 2 min exert from a series of interviews with Jean McNiff

A renowned theorist and writer, Jean McNiff discusses her ideas on what it is to be a teacher and facilitator of learning – not only for the students in your care but also for yourself as a learner also.

“Teaching is a generosity of spirit”                           

  “Teaching helps us to realize our capacities…to become more than we are..”

Values Exploration


Values are our underlying beliefs and assumptions. Sometimes, we are acutely aware of them, sometimes we only become conscious of a value when it is violated in some way.

In organizational and professional contexts, values have become increasdingly important as we move beyond ‘command and control cultures’ and as systems and individuals are faced with complex and complicated realities. In these contexts knowing what we believe becomes important as ‘rules’ cannot address the situations we are faced with.

Downey and Youell note that

  • “If organisations are to respond consistently and appropriately to today’s fluid and constantly shifting context, inflexible rulebooks and top down edicts need to be replaced with core values and guiding principles which can be freely interpreted in the moment of decision by everyone across the organisation”

(Downey and Youell, 2005)

As members of organisations where we work and as a result of our development as Library Staff, we are also aware of and engage with values through the cultures and practices we operate within.

Knowing and understanding the values we are expected to ascribe or aspire to matters in our contexts

As Library Staff we are presented with a myriad of conversations, situations and decisions that ask us to be aware of personal, professional and organizational values and to act from them.  The capacity to work on initiative and use our discretion is intimately related to values awareness and is a quality recognized by bodies such as the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development as a quality for dynamic and high achieving workplaces.

Exploring my Values and those of the PDF

“Values are like fingerprints. Nobody’s are the same, but you leave them over everything you do”. Elvis Presley

In the tools below, we invite you to explore your values, those of your organization and professional body and to position these into the Inquiry into Self initiation in Domain 1 of the Professional Development Framework

Values Tool 1

Look at the words below and ask yourself which resonate with you and then consider how these values impact on:

  • My approach to Continued Professional Development (CPD)
  • My approach to teaching and learning as a Librarian
  • My approach to students
  • My approach to practice
  • Professionalism
  • Impartiality
  • Integrity

From LAI (Library Association of Ireland)


  • Visionary leadership, transformation, new ideas, and global perspectives
  • Exemplary service to members
  • Diversity
  • Integrity and Transparency
  • Continuous learning
  • Responsible stewardship of resources

From ACRL (Association of College and Research Libraries)


  • Collaboration
  • Innovation
  • Open Access
  • Excellence

From CONUL (Consortium of National and University Libraries):


  • Concern for the public good in all professional matters
  • Respect for diversity within society
  • Promoting equal opportunities and respect for human rights
  • Concern for the good reputation of the information profession
  • Commitment to the defence, access to information, ideas and works of the imagination
  • Provision of the best possible service with available resources
  • Equitable treatment for all information users
  • Impartiality, and avoidance of inappropriate bias in acquiring and evaluation information services
  • Respect for confidentiality and privacy of information users

From CILIP (The Library and Information Association, UK)


  • Respect
  • Care
  • Integrity
  • Trust

From Teaching Council Ireland


  • Access
  • Confidentiality/Privacy
  • Democracy
  • Diversity
  • Education and Lifelong Learning
  • Intellectual Freedom
  • The Public Good
  • Preservation
  • Professionalism
  • Service
  • Social Responsibility

From ALA (American Library Association)


  • Inclusivity
  • Authenticity
  • Scholarship
  • Learner-Centreness
  • Collaboration

From Professional Development Framework (PDF)

Then ask

Are there more to add to the list?

Values Tool 2

Write a piece about the impact of each Value on your practice and approach to CPD. Include here images and visions of how these impact at their best. Consider the relevance of each to the experience of learners.


Values Tool 3

Values of Your Organization

Find out the Values of your Organisation and Library. These are likely to be stated in Strategic Plans, Organisational Documents or perhaps even on Wall Hangings.

Identity ways these values are enacted (or not).
Consider how these Values resonate with your own, with the Values of your profession, and with the PDF.
Consider the places where you are aware of incongruence?
Write a reflection on this exploration.