ASSOCIATES (2004, July, v. 11, no. 1) -

[Editor: Mary is the founder and list owner of LIBSUP-L, still going strong after 12 years, and was instrumental in bringing Associates from a "wish" to reality over 10 years ago. Mary is a leader in the growth and recognition of library paraprofessionals.]

*Finding Their Voice*


Mary T. Kalnin
University of Washington Libraries

And it came to pass that those library employees whom we call paraprofessional/support staff sought a voice in the library community. They realized they had much to contribute to librarianship and information science, but how were they to be heard? The Council on Library/Media Technicians (COLT) and its excellent publication Library Mosaics took up the challenge and became the print voice for support staff. It also provided an opportunity for support staff to be noticed by the more well-known library journals -- those which were less likely to publish work submitted by paraprofessionals.

However, the Internet and the World Wide Web were becoming an alternative mode of communication. How would paraprofessional staff have a presence there? There were many library discussion lists whose information was of interest to support staff and to which they contributed much expertise. However, there were none that were "theirs" by them and for them. In 1992 we saw the inauguration of LIBSUP-L, an Internet discussion list for paraprofessionals; support staff took another step forward as the list grew in numbers and purpose. As discussions continued, the library world saw the emergence of electronic journals generally online versions of print publications. Here was another new venue which could allow paraprofessional staff to publish and share their expertise. But how? But who? But where?

Into this void stepped Kendall Simmons, Wendee Eyler, and Susan Ryan, who became the prime movers for Associates. Associates would be the electronic journal of support staff. It would be published in electronic format only and would carry any contributions that had a library theme articles, fiction, poetry, conference announcements. It would carry ongoing columns, book reviews everything the print library journals publish. So, in 1994, with Kendall Simmons at the helm and the University of Kansas hosting, Associates was born.

As I look back on the past ten years, I see so much. From the tentative beginning of a new publication, Associates has become a polished, important source of information and delight. As with all journals, there have been changes. Associates has a new editor, Wendee Eyler, and a new home, the University of California at Riverside. Some of the original columnists have "retired," to be succeeded by equally talented writers. However, the focus remains a support staff publication with important contributions to make and which beguiles all who will take the time to read it. As I look ahead, I see continued growth. Those first editors and columnists have given support staff its voice, and we are on solid ground; it is now our task to build on this superb foundation, and make Associates not just a better niche publication, but a journal that will take its rightful place as a scholarly publication second to none. This is no easy task but, as paraprofessionals continue to assume more and more important roles in their libraries, it is time that our expertise and opinions were read and acknowledged.

On behalf of LIBSUP-L, I send our congratulations and best wishes to Associates. May you shine even more brightly as you go forward into your next ten years!

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