ASSOCIATES (vol. 10, no. 2, November 2003) -

*The Silver Anniversary of the New York State Library Assistants’ Association’s Annual Conference*


Judith Andrew
Chair, NYSLAA Public Relations Committee

The New York State Library Assistants’ Association held its twenty-fifth annual conference Wednesday through Friday, June 11-13, 2003, at The Inn at Smithfield in Plattsburgh, NY. This year the conference was hosted by the Clinton-Essex-Franklin Library System and its theme was Our Silver Lining: 25 Years Supporting Library Assistants, an allusion to the fact that this was our conference’s silver anniversary.

Because the conference was taking place so far north, the NYSLAA Executive Council decided to make it easier for some folks to get there by providing a bus to pick up participants in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, and Utica. The highlight of the trip was the ride through part of the Adirondacks on that beautiful, sunny day, seeing the region’s many lakes and the mountains covered with evergreens. Many other people also chose to arrive on Tuesday in order to join the trip to Montreal, Canada the next morning.

Many of the conference attendees enjoyed an afternoon in the historical district of this fascinating city. The old stone buildings with their window boxes full of flowers, charming shops with their signs in French, the narrow streets, and French-speaking inhabitants, all made us feel as if we were in Europe. It was a wonderful way to begin our time together. Wednesday evening there was an informal party at poolside back at the inn in Plattsburgh.

Thursday began with a welcoming address by Mary A. Brown, Director of the Clinton-Essex-Franklin Library System, followed by our annual Town Meeting. The Executive Council brought us up-to-date on association business and there were reports from Dorothy Morgan, our ambassador, and Judith Andrew, chair of the Public Relations Committee. We also heard about the goings-on in the state’s library council regions as members from the various areas told us about their past year’s activities and plans for the near future. The floor was then opened for general discussion.

We had the opportunity to attend two workshops on Thursday, choosing from such topics as the local history of Plattsburgh, cataloging and processing of multi-media materials, MS Publisher 2000, public speaking, distance learning, and time management. There was also the annual workshop for people interested in beginning work on their NYSLAA Certificate of Achievement. That evening, we went on a dinner cruise on beautiful Lake Champlain. There was wonderful food, lively music, and one of the most stunning sunsets any of us had ever seen. When we disembarked in the darkness, we were tired, but pleased to have had such a full and enjoyable day with old friends and new.

Early Friday morning, Fred Smith, the President of the Board of Trustees of the Clinton-Essex-Franklin Library System, gave us another warm welcome. Workshops for that day included, among others, the subjects of conference planning, publicizing your library, advanced internet searching, digital image scanning, financial planning, and emergency first aid. There was also a tour of the Special Collections at the Feinberg Library at SUNY Plattsburgh, including their archives and some of their art galleries.

At Friday’s luncheon, annual awards were given. People who have been members of NYSLAA for five and ten years received their pins and paperweights, and the two awards for outstanding service were presented. This year’s recipient of the Ray Murray Award for Outstanding Service to New York’s Library Assistants is Janet Natalia Stahl, Director of Library Services at the Harriet Call Burnap Memorial Library at Clarkson University. The Craig Koste Award for Outstanding Service, given each year to a NYSLAA member, was given to Vergie Savage-Branch, a library clerk at the Samuel J. Wood Library at Weill Medical College of Cornell and an inspirational force at the Library Assistants, Support Staff, and Associates Special Interests Group of the Metropolitan New York Library Council. Also, six people earned their NYSLAA Certificates of Achievement this past year, and those were also awarded at the luncheon.

Our keynote speaker this year was Bill Fiege, Assistant Director of Development at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia. Some of our members had heard Bill speak at the 2001 Virginia Library Association Paraprofessional Forum and were so impressed that they urged our Executive Council to bring him to our conference. It was easy to see why they had been so impressed by him. He was a lot of fun, and his stories and advice about work life and life in general were indeed motivational. His words and upbeat personality were a perfect ending to our time in Plattsburgh, and one of the many inspirational memories that will encourage us throughout the coming year.

Check our website ( periodically over the next months for information on NYSLAA’s 2004 conference in Rochester. These conferences are a major force in the professional growth and personal fulfillment of New York’s library assistants, and each year we welcome people from other states as well. Join us next June!

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