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

*2003 Ohio Library Support Staff Institute*


Judy Orahood
Cataloging Manager
Ohio Wesleyan University

The second Ohio Library Support Staff Institute was held August 3-6, 2003 at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. Support staff from all types of libraries explored new opportunities and ideas as well as improved skills. Fifty-two students and nine camp staff attended the Institute this year. In addition to people from all around Ohio, one person came from Pennsylvania and two from West Virginia. Elementary and grade school, high school, academic, public, and special libraries were represented.

Linda Pelka, Claggett Media Center and Michael Bradshaw, the Supreme Court of Ohio Law Library, received full scholarships to the Institute which were provided by Douglas Morrison and Sarah Brown. Bradshaw said, "Instructors and their curricula were all very well thought out. A good mix of information and entertainment." Pelka commented, "A great big thank you to all of you for a terrific seminar at Kenyon College. … I had a great time and met many wonderful people." Both of them are already looking forward to next year. The scholarship applicants wrote essays stating why they wished to attend the institute and how they thought attending would enhance their job performance.

Ten sessions were offered. Topics covered included support staff as supervisors; computer problems to look for before you call for help; Ohio authors; safety on the job; copy cataloging; EBSCO; and information about continuing education opportunities for support staff. Time for networking was available during meals and in the evenings. Many people agreed the institute was both fun and informative.

Here are some program highlights:

What to Check Before You Call a Tech

Corey Seeman was the presenter for this session which provided ideas about things you can check if your computer is not working. For example, if your computer sits on the floor, check to see if cables which may have been loosened by cleaning staff during sweeping and mopping are connected. If you get an error message, write down the wording of the error message you received so you can report it to the tech when you call. The details in this message may help in solving your problem.

Just for Copy Cats

Donna Schroeder from OHIONET explained the parts of the MARC (Machine Readable Cataloging) record, the basics of cataloging and AACR2 (Anglo American Cataloging Rules). One attendee described the session, "Gave me the foundation/understanding I need to learn more about cataloging at my workplace."

Effective Web Searches

John Burke from Miami University Middletown shared many ways to locate information on the Internet. He explained how to find picture files, song lyrics, and a variety of other information, using some familiar search tools and some not-so-familiar search tools.

Support Staff as Supervisors

Susan Weldon and Bonnie VandenBos, Wright State University, presented this program. They recommended using humor in the workplace as a way to improve communication among staff. The pros and cons of support staff supervising other support staff were discussed. A short video about leadership which discussed openness, creditability and trust sparked discussion. The audience watched another video, FISH, which examines the importance of attitude in the workplace.

Educational Opportunities

Linda S. Dobb, Bowling Green State University, and John Burke, Miami University in Middletown, spoke to a large group of attendees about opportunities available for continuing their education in library related coursework. Ohio Dominican College offers an AA in library services. Belmont Technical College and The University of Cincinnati, Raymond Walters College provide online (distance education) programs which grant an associates degree in information services. At the College of Technology, Bowling Green State University, there is an online program, Advanced Technological Education, which can supplement an AAS degree towards a Bachelor’s degree which is required for beginning the Masters of Library Science (MLS) graduate degree. Kent State University is the only institution to offer the MLS degree in Ohio. Another Kent program called 12-12-12 MLIS Distance Degree is also available.

EBSCO Database Training

Dorrie Sacksteder, who does contract research for various companies such as Lexis-Nexis and the Charles F. Kettering Foundation, lead this session which was important because Ebscohost is a new product to many support staff. This is the first year EBSCO access has been available in schools as well as colleges and universities. The class covered basic and advanced searching, the use of limiters and expanders, and display and delivery options. The main support page is available online at One evaluation commented: "Better than any EBSCO database training session previously attended-learned quite a few new things that will be helpful-combining searches, further use of limiting/refining searches."

Ohio Authors

Linda Hengst, Executive Director of the Ohioana Library Association housed in the State Library building gave an informative talk including stories and examples from stories by Ohio authors. There are about 40,000 books written by Ohio authors in this collection. An Ohio author is described as someone either born in Ohio or who has lived in the state for at least five years. Most of the materials which are literary works are acquired through donations.

Beyond EBSCO

Jay Burton of the State Library of Ohio taught this class which discussed research databases currently available through INFOhio, OPLIN and OhioLink. Actual reference questions, such as finding a poem heard on NPR which was written by Baxter Black about Border Collies, were searched. He explained Ten Minute Tutors, a site he helped to develop. There is a wealth of useful information for library staff found on the State Library of Ohio website at

Dealing with Difficult Patrons

Dave Ferimer and Robert Wood, police officers from The Ohio State University, stressed that we need to be aware of our surroundings. Officers and participants shared incidents which lead to valuable discussions on ways to prevent crime. In an exercise participants shared memories of an incident they experienced during the session. It was fascinating to see how people see things differently. The officers impressed us that if something feels wrong, it probably is wrong. Report the situation! A comment from the evaluations: "These guys were great. Handled difficult information and subjects with humor and understanding. It was very informative."

Changing Roles of Support Staff

During the closing program, Priscilla Ratliff from Ashland, Inc., Glenda Thornton from Cleveland State University Libraries, and Sarah Brown from Mason Public Library stressed how vital support staff are in all library settings. Support staff should not feel limited nor should they be limited by their supervisors. The speakers encouraged support staff to reveal hidden talents when possible, change jobs if needed, to continue their education and keep current in the field.

While life in the college dorm wasn’t like being in a "5-star" hotel, the food at the Kenyon cafeteria was delicious. There was something for everyone and no one left hungry! The campus and surrounding Gambier are beautiful. Walk through the gates of Hell and just a little further down the path off to your right, you can see angels playing their trumpets! Gifts for use as door prizes, awards and drawings during meals were made possible by generous sponsors as they were last year. A complete list of contributors is available on the OLSSI website.

Look at the website to see what you missed. While you are on the website, read a short article written by Michael Bradshaw about the tour, "Haunted Kenyon," led by Daniel P. Turner.

A memorable comment from one evaluation starts out, "This had to be an amazing amount of work…" You are right; it is an amazing amount of work, but well worth it for the attendees as well as the program committee. The program committee consisted of a large group of people from many types of libraries from all over Ohio. They met frequently in person, talked on the telephone and corresponded by e-mail to pull it together. For many attendees this was a conference of firsts: the first time they have attended a conference; the first time they spent the night at a conference or the first time they attended a conference out of state. Another comment from an evaluation which summed it all up is, "Thank you all for a wonderful and informative time. Hope to see you next year."

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