ASSOCIATES (2011, July, v. 18, no. 1)

Question

In addition to your standard duties. What opportunities exist in your organization for you or other library support staff to contribute to the development of the library service?

Kathy Clevenger
Circulation / Volunteers Services Coordinator
Culpepper County Library, Culpepper, VA

Library Support staff is greatly involved in library development at the Culpeper County Library in Culpeper, Virginia. All book journals are read by Reference and Children support staff in helping to determine books that should be added to our collection. With their suggestions, the Adult Services coordinator, the Youth Services Coordinator and the Director of the Library decide which books would best suit our patron population. Many suggestions are funneled directly through the support staff from patrons’ for books they wish to be purchased and added to our collection.

Children’s Programming is done by Library Support Staff with the support of the Youth Services Coordinator. Suggestions are taken from staff, patrons, and members of Friends of the Library for Adult Programming. Most displays throughout the library are designed by Support Staff.

Due to the team environment, many of the decisions that are ultimately made by our Director are given to staff to help determine what is best for our library. With support staff input, there is an easier transition when changes are made or a new product/equipment is introduced. There is a greater buy-in from staff since they had a voice in the process.

An example of this input concerns the new addition to the library building we are hoping to start in the near future. The Director has spoken with each individual to get a feel for what is important not only to the individual, but to the library as a whole. Using these ideas and visions, there have been many changes in the overall design of what we may ultimately see as a finished product once the addition is built. Although staff realizes the Director has the final decision, along with the Library Board, again the staff feels like they have a say in the entire process versus just being told what will happen and when.

To be able to contribute to the development of the library, you have to be able to see a future for yourself in that process. Encouragement is constantly given for attending webinars, local conferences, and state Library functions. Although money is tight at this time, there are many free opportunities to further your knowledge about library service, both where we are now and where we are going in the future.

With the ALA Library Support Staff Certification now in its early stages, I am finding the knowledge that is given through the courses to be very helpful and challenging. There is something for everyone with the certification process; you can do self-paced portfolios or courses in which you receive CEU’s toward your certification. Whichever method you choose, there is definitely a wealth of information that is the support staff person’s choice to pursue. Support from the Director in this process shows me that she appreciates the time and dedication that is required to meet the criteria for LSS Certification. By gaining knowledge and skills, support staff will be able to continue to actively contribute to the development of their library’s service, and take pride in being a “para” professional.

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