ASSOCIATES (2011, November, v. 18, no. 2)


Opportunities To Ask For What You Need

Allison Sloan
Senior Library Associate
Reading Public Library
Reading, Massachusetts

About a year ago, I was thrilled that my proposal was accepted for a soon to be published book in the ALA Librarian’s Handbook series titled: Managing in the Middle. As I read through the list of suggested topics, the idea of mentorship stood out as an excellent subject for Para librarians. The idea was to write about paralibrarian middle managers, and how middle managers can have great impact on a paralibrarian’s career.

When I get a chance to stand on the soapbox, my preferred topics to shout out about include: mentorship, paralibrarian support, trickle-down effect and tapping into people’s unique abilities. So I wrote 2000 words about the different ways a paralibrarian can develop a meaningful and satisfying career in libraries, alongside librarians. I wrote about how Library Directors’ supportive attitude filters down to mentor and encourage their middle managers (paralibrarian or otherwise) to become mentors for paralibrarian staff.

I highlighted the value of simple encouragement and volunteerism. These are the components that open opportunities and suggest that every library staffer has a lot to contribute, even without a Masters degree. The chapter includes success stories of opportunities for training, continuing education, committee and conference work, and inlibrary projects. Of course I drew upon personal experiences with the fabulous mentors I have been lucky to work with. But we can all look around and see examples of the great work being done by paralibrarians that is a bit outside of the regular job description. And we can all attest that the support from middle managers means our jobs expand and we find our days filled with creativity, fun, learning and wholesomeness of working as a paralibrarian.

So, jump on the bandwagon, take every opportunity to ask for what you need as a paralibrarian to enhance your job, broaden your skills, and contribute to librarianship.