ASSOCIATES (vol. 7 no. 2, November 2000) -

CT Library Association Support Staff (CLASS) Conference Report: "Tools for Growth"

Oct. 27, 2000
Housatonic Community College, Bridgeport, CT

Conference report


Sandy Brooks
Eastern CT Libraries

The Connecticut Library Association Support Staff section (CLASS) held its second annual full-day paraprofessional conference on Friday, October 27, 2000. The theme was "Tools for Growth", and was very successful! Over 75 library assistants from across the state made their way to the very attractive Housatonic Community College in Bridgeport to network, learn new skills, and grow professionally. (Last year most of the attendees were not CLA members; we were pleased this year to find that half of those at the conference already enjoy membership benefits of CLA.

The day started with Bruce Harvey, Director of the Housatonic Community College Library, and Karen McNulty, CLA President-elect, welcoming attendees. This was followed by our first keynote speaker, Dorothy Morgan. Dorothy is the Business Manager of the Liverpool (NY) Public Library and the current President of SSIRT, the support staff section of the American Library Association. Dorothy spoke about national issues facing support staff, such as compensation, continuing education, career ladders, and certification. She also outlined the NY State Library Assistants Association's voluntary Certificate of Achievement Program, which is open to library assistants worldwide. (More about this program can be found at

The conference was divided into three session "blocks", with four workshop choices in each time slot. The first session offered hands-on Basic Book Repair with Denise Dixson, book conservationist, used-book seller, and Assistant Librarian at the Chaplin Public Library. Another session was titled "Getting Your Message Across: How to Deal with the Media", presented by Jan Day, Chair of CLA's Intellectual Freedom Committee. Marianne Hebert and Kris Jacobi of the J. Eugene Smith Library at Eastern CT State University spoke about MARC cataloging basics to a standing-room only crowd. (Due to popular demand, this session will be repeated as a Library Assistants Roundtable meeting put on by Eastern CT Libraries early in 2001.) The final concurrent session was "Information Power 2 and You". Irene Kwidzinski and Anita Pfluger of the CT Educational Media Association (CEMA) updated staff on the tenets of the new "bible" for library media specialists, "Information Power 2".

The second session featured an advanced book repair session with Denise Dixson, "Repairing Older Cloth & Leather Books". Ann Devenish, consulting librarian for NELINET, the regional OCLC service provider, spoke about options for service in "Is OCLC in Your Future?" Also featured was an ergonomics training session with Savita Trivedi of ConnOSHA, who shared tips on proper set-up and use of a computer workstation. Another popular session was "Children's Programming: Dealing with Disruptive Behavior" presented by Melissa Yurechko, Community Librarian at the Dwight Branch of the Hartford Public Library and past chair of the CLA Children's section.

A light lunch was served to all conference attendees in the school cafeteria. This was a chance to meet peers from all types of libraries, and ask follow-up questions of presenters and speakers. After lunch everyone reassembled for our second keynote address by Ken Wiggin, CT State Librarian. Ken updated us on exciting aspects of the CT library scene, such as the statewide digital library currently in development, and especially the Continuing Library Education Credit program (CLEC). Collecting CLECs is a voluntary way for library workers to document their continuing education and professional growth (see for more information).

The final session offered a choice of an AV Processing Roundtable led by Pattie Noren of Eastern CT Libraries; a very well-received session on "Writing an Effective Resume" by Career Counselor Carl Ochnio; "Unions and You, Making a Better Workplace Together" presented by Robert Reutenaur, a long-time union organizer; and a review of the services offered by the CT Library Network with three members of the CLN staff - Bill Sullivan, Gail Hurley, and Steve Cauffman..

Evaluation forms indicate that the conference was overall a positive experience for all attending. The CLASS section has already set a tentative date of Friday, Oct. 26, 2001 for the next conference, to be held at Manchester Community College.

The members of this year's conference committee were Kris Golden of the Willimantic Library Service Center and chair of the CLASS section, Pam Perll & Diana Paris of Manchester Community College Library, Tzou Min Hsiung of Central CT State University Library, and Sandy Brooks of Eastern CT Libraries. Many thanks to all our speakers, attendees, and others who made the day a great success!

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