Continuing Education On a Budget for Librarians and Chemists

Librarian Life: Continuing Education On a Budget

Continuing EducationI need some creative ideas for fulfilling my job’s continuing education requirements. In the past, I took care of them at the ACS National Meeting. But my office doesn’t have enough money to send me this year. How can stay up-to-date in my field without busting my budget?

Working with a limited budget for continuing education is frustrating, but you don’t have to spend a lot of money or travel a great distance to seek out premium professional development.

Check out some of these lower-cost options for continuing education:

Regional Events: Many organizations, including ACS, host regional meetings to complement their larger annual gatherings. If one is happening nearby, maybe you can skip the hotel and airfare entirely.

Science Boot Camps: Some universities host short, intensive training days in a specialized area. These events tend to have low registration costs and offer terrific value for money. There are five main events: True North, West, Great Lakes, Northeast, and Southeast. Keep your eye out on listservs and social media for announcements.

Unconferences: These non-traditional events offer a great alternative to the traditional conference experience. Instead of listening to established presenters, conferees share their own experiences in small sessions organized around themes. These events offer a rare chance to benefit from someone else’s real world experiences and best of all many are free to attend. STELLA is a great option and their next conference will be in 2018,

Virtual Conferences: Travel and lodging are the biggest expenses associated with professional development and continuing education. Why not make your money go further and attend a virtual conference instead? ER&L has an affordable online conference and a group rate too.

Government Options: Depending on your field, the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and other government offices may have events or webinars you could attend at little or no cost.

Association Benefits: If you belong to a professional association, such as ACS, you may be eligible for event registration discounts or other benefits. These benefits make it easier to fulfill your continuing education requirements. Check with your membership office for details.

What are your favorite continuing education options?

Librarians answer tough questions every day, but sometimes even they get stumped. ACS Library Relations Manager Michael Qiu picks one of your burning questions to answer each month and his advice comes with the painstaking care you would expect from a librarian. Send him your best questions at and he might address your issue in a future edition of this column.

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