That old adage “You get what you pay for” doesn’t apply when it comes to library continuing education. If you know where to look it’s easy to find training and development opportunities that are inexpensive and often free. Yes, FREE!  From one-hour webinars to all-day workshops to library conferences, there is a low-cost or no-cost way to gain new library skills. Below are my recommendations for library webinars, websites, courses, and other professional development happenings (some you certainly have heard of and others, maybe not) that will expand your sphere of knowledge without breaking the bank.

Alternative Basic Library Education (ABLE)

ABLE is a free online learning platform operated by the Idaho Commission for Libraries and is open to everyone. Its mission is to provide basic library knowledge to those who don’t have formal training in library science. Library staff from around the globe have benefited from these free courses, which include “Writing a Collection Development Policy”, “Introduction to Subject Headings”, and “The Reference Interview”.


Infopeople offers free workshops designed by library staff for library staff working in all types of libraries. Transcripts from workshops can be downloaded and printed and users can follow along by listening to the MP3 file anytime. Past webinars/workshops are archived, including the popular full-day workshop “Survival Spanish for Library Staff,” which presents basic communication skills for library employees who regularly encounter Spanish-speaking patrons. Other archived webinars worth checking out are “You Can Do I.T. On Your Own” and “Using Twitter for Professional Development Opportunities.”

Library 2.0 Virtual Conference

You can attend a library conference without leaving your office. Library 2.0 offers a free annual virtual conference complete with keynote speakers, chat rooms, and group presentations. The 2014 conference (held in October) marked the fourth year of this annual event which  is held entirely online in multiple languages and time zones. Past conferences are archived so you don’t have to wait until 2015 to check out this awesome event.

The online learning company offers subscriptions starting at $25 per month and each of their 3,137 courses includes free video tutorials so you can sample courses first. With this many available courses, the monthly fee seems like a bargain.


LYRASIS is a non-profit membership organization but offers many courses and product/service spotlights for free that are open to anyone. Upcoming free online courses include “Going Digital,” “Newspaper Digitization,” and “Teaching the Next Generation to Participate in Open Source Communities.” Check out their website for lots of other free events as well as some fantastic face-to-face and live online seminars offered for a fee.

Pro Bono Net – Libraries and Access to Justice

Libraries and Access to Justice is a free four-part series offered by Pro Bono Net and provides the training necessary for library staff to assist patrons with legal referral resources and information on legal aid programs.


WebJunction is an open online learning community that assists library staff with acquiring the knowledge and skills needed to meet the needs of today’s library patrons, at all types of libraries.

Check out each site to see their full list of offerings. And of course, I’ve mentioned only a handful of sites offering free (or cheap) continuing education opportunities, but these are my favorites.