Introduction: Professional development is an important aspect of working practices for academic librarians. In the past decades the academic library has been subjected to an enormous range of technological and cultural advancements that have constantly required its staff to develop their professional knowledge and understanding. One of the most recent revolutions has been the advent of social media. This advent of a new technology can provide challenges and opportunities but to fully understand these we need to analyse the relationship between social media and various context in more depth.
Method: This inductive grounded theory study was iteratively conducted in three different academic libraries in England. At each location an analysis of the social media in use both organisationally and individually was made, and a purposefully selected number of actors was interviewed to gain a deeper understanding of their ideas about social media, CPD and the potential to learn from social media.
Findings: The findings demonstrate that the managerial view of CPD is not necessarily compatible with the perception, or needs, of practitioners in relation to their professional development. To increase understanding of this domain, the study analysed the underlying factors related to both social media use and perception, and participation in and perception of professional development. This has led to the discovery of a theory that can be summarised as Continuous Professional Adaptation is learning that occurs as a consequence of professional awareness and preparedness through the use of informal networks.
Outcome: The grounded theory presented in this document demonstrates a need to expand the dialogue on professional development in academic libraries, in both an academic and practical context, based on the advent of social media. Formal development in the shape of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is still regarded as the most relevant method of developing human resources due to the prevalence of a managerial approach to professional development.
Conclusion: Increasingly academics and practitioners require more than the formal approach to professional development which can be classed as increasingly being irrelevant due to practical limitations of delivery time and mode and speed of changes occurring. This research contributes to that dialogue, providing a unique approach by incorporating social media with professional development.
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.