I’m fortunate that work is happy for me to attend CPD events – as long as reasonably priced and the library has enough staffing to carry on in my absence – which is the problem. We’re thinly staffed (as are many of us) and getting away can be problematic.
I find many events are HE led, interesting & relevant to me in FE, but either further away than is feasible to travel in a day, or being held over 2 or even 3 days. This may be fine in HE where there is greater staffing flexibility, but is impossible for FE. Even if the event is free there is staff cover, travel & accommodation to cost in. Last year I was invited to present at a conference but to travel and attend would have meant 3 days out of college, so I was unable to go.
Another down-side is coming away from an event enthused and eager to try out new ideas, only to have real life intrude & time to play with these vanish!
However, CPD events are great. A chance to meet folk from other institutions; see other libraries; put faces to people on forums & Twitter feeds; to compare experiences & realise you’re not the only library strugging with a problem (e.g.students eating pizzas in the library).
I’m terrible at remembering names, so I annotate the attendees list with comments about the people I meet & especially what we talked about.
Do follow up your meeting with an email and / or by following on Twitter for anyone you felt was interesting or would be helpful to you.
Take some notes so when the presentations are shared after the event you can recall the detail of what was actually said.
Try and find time after to reflect on & implement some ideas from the event.
Recommendations for events-
Birmingham City University annual one day conference – due Spring 2016 This is not free, but has been very interesting in the past. Previous event have been archived, here’s the last one.
UKEIG events. FE ones often free.
Local Teachmeets are often free. I’ve attended a few at Staffordhire Uni.
Your LMS or Discovery service providers often hold free user meetings which can be very interesting. Find out how other libraries are using them, and influence future developments.