Developing the Professional You on a Budget: 5 Tips

Written By: Guest Blogger Sophia Guevara, MLIS, MPA.

Professional development on a budget.  For many information professionals, that idea is too familiar.  But what if that development plan centers around you?  For those that want to become professionally active, creating a plan doesn’t have to be expensive, just creative.  Here are 5 tips that can unlock free or lower cost opportunities:

Write or Publish

When I was fairly new in my professional career, I participated in an interview where the importance of published work was stressed.  Ever since, I have continued to publish and have been impressed by its benefits.  This is a great option for those who may be short on money for conference attendance and travel.  Writing in an association’s trade journal might provide a cost-free way to get your name out to others in the field, while sharing your expertise to help move the field forward.  As you continue writing, you may find editors that are willing to pay for the content published.  If you get this option, think about using it as a way to fund your professional memberships and conference attendance.  Writing can actually pay dividends for your professional development.


Those with memberships to organizations that include the Special Libraries Association or the American Library Association can make the most of it by volunteering.  Think about joining the  committees and boards in these groups and connect with others.  Service with association boards might provide some reimbursement options that can help cover part of the cost of travel.

Free Educational Webinars

Many associations provide members with online opportunities to learn from experts in the field.  As an example, the Information Technology Division of the Special Libraries Association offers webinars.  

Read Trade Journals, Magazines and Other Material Written for your Field

If you have a professional membership, you may gain access to trade journals.  You may also be able to access content from a variety of divisions that publish newsletters and bulletins – some with public access.  Examples include the Special Libraries Association Information Technology Division’s Bulletin and the Nonprofit Technology Network’s Connect newsletter.


YouTube provides more than just entertainment content.  Some of the more educational content includes videos of TEDtalks and how-to videos on skill improvement.  Some of the information shared by content producers may be well-meaning but incorrect, some of it may be opinion and some may tout their own ideas.  Ensure that you identify the experts on the site to learn from.

Try these tips to make the most of your own professional development activities. You can also watch Soutron Global’s Transforming Libraries Webinars.

Have a few suggestions of your own? Join the conversation on Twitter or LinkedIn!