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BCLA Perspectives

Professional Development – PNLA Style!

PNLA logo

The Pacific Northwest Library Association (PNLA) is (in my opinion) one of the best resources for professional development in our region.  This association is an international group of library professionals and workers from all types of libraries, in all sorts of positions. Our members are assistants and associates, librarians, special librarians, library professors, school librarians, archivists, library directors, and even library trustees and board members!  We come from Canada (British Columbia and Alberta) and the United States (Alaska, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Oregon), and from communities ranging in size from Vancouver, Edmonton and Seattle to Whistler and Utqiagvik, and everything in between.

The PNLA Board (elected by the membership) is constantly working to bring value to the membership.  Our biggest opportunity for networking and professional development each year is our annual conference.  This event rotates among our states and provinces, giving folks a chance to access the conference closer to home.   This year’s conference, Libraries Leading the Way will be held August 5-7 in Spokane, Washington and will feature pre-conferences, speakers and breakout sessions on the topic of leadership in libraries.

Leadership is an important topic in PNLA, particularly the concept of leading from any level.  The LEADS Institute has been one of the critical activities of the Pacific Northwest Library Association. To date, over 200 individuals have gone back to their libraries, library systems, and communities equipped with leadership and management skills to help guide their libraries in this time of tremendous and constant change.  LEADS is going through a reconstruction process this year, and we are looking forward to offering this popular professional development opportunity in 2021.

With its smaller size, the Pacific Northwest Library Association is an amazing opportunity to increase one’s involvement in the library profession without becoming overwhelmed by the time demands.  Volunteer opportunities within PNLA abound, and are open to folks from any type of library or job category:

  • PNLA Quarterly Editor – This is a current opening that we are trying to get filled as soon as possible.  The PNLA Quarterly is the electronic, peer-reviewed journal of the Pacific Northwest Library Association.  Our current editor, Samantha Hines, is resigning but is willing to help train a new person in this important position.  Please contact Jenny if you can help out with this critical vacancy.
  • Board positions – Elections are held every spring for a variety of jobs to help the organization run smoothly.  We are always looking for people willing to help out (and build their professional resume). Check out our website at PNLA.org, or contact Jenny for more information.
  • Provincial representatives – In addition to the executive positions, PNLA has a representative from each province and state in the region.  These representatives can be chosen by the provincial association, or can be elected by the PNLA membership. We will be looking for a new BC representative next spring, so please let us know if you are interested in this opportunity.
  • YRCA – PNLA has the longest running (and only international) children’s choice book award, the Young Reader’s Choice Award.  This committee of volunteers (one from each province and state) choose titles for each of the age groups, and help promote the program in their area.  Jocie Wilson is the chair of this program, and her contact information is on the PNLA website.

PNLA’s mission is to provide opportunities for increased communication, networking and learning between library staff in our region.  Just the other day, I was talking with a co-worker who has been in her position for many years. She was interested to hear that PNLA wasn’t just for those with “the degree.”  I told her that attending conferences such as PNLA is a good way to find out what folks are doing in their libraries located in far away places. In addition, our jobs board is a great resource for those seeking to change their job or location.

Visit our website at PNLA.org to learn more, or contact me at [email protected]–I’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have.


Jenny Grenfell is the President of the Pacific Northwest Library Association, and a library manager in the Timberland Regional Library System of southwest Washington State.