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


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?

Aside from my regular duties, I had the opportunity to develop a Customer Service training manual that has been adopted by our institution. We currently have three modules that my Library Director and I have presented to all our campus staff. The first module is our service excellence principle; the second module is customer service for persons with disabilities; the third module is dealing with difficult situations. We are currently finishing off the module on providing multicultural customer service and are hoping to provide the training workshop in August or late autumn.

Karen Hildebrandt
Access Services Coordinator
Concordia University, Alberta, Canada

I am happy to say that at the University of Baltimore, Langsdale Library we have regular staff meetings and supervisors meetings to discuss a wide range of issues. We consistently ask for and receive support staff input, and consider them the user experts. All staff are asked to participate in library committees, such as Marketing, technical development, etc.

One good example is that our campus is moving to a new class management system, Sakai. Along with other library staff, our Reserves support staff person has been involved with our campus technology department, advising them of the reserves ‘needs’ when considering the implementation.

Carol A. Vaeth
Book and Document Delivery Supervisor
Langsdale Library
University of Baltimore, Baltimore, MD.

The VCU Libraries provides countless opportunities for staff to contribute to the development of library services, such as:

– Staff are assigned to Task Forces, Work Groups and Committees.
– The Staff Association advocates for services as perceived necessary.
– Staff input is essential to plan the Annual Spending Budget.
– Staff participate in special events, such as the Annual Book Sale, Tours and Surveys.
– Staff offer Workshops in specialized areas.
– Staff contribute web content, such as Blog updates and Research Guides.

Ken Hopson
Manager, Media & Reserve Services
VCU Libraries
Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA

Reading Public Library in Massachusetts is a small public library that serves a town population of approximately 24,000. However, we are also part of the larger NOBLE consortium, which includes academic and special libraries (e.g. museums). It is important that support come from the Director or Head of the library for paralibrarian participation in any program beyond their regular job description. It requires inspired advocacy to help support staff realize they have more to contribute besides just the standard duties. Libraries in the NOBLE consortium offer a wonderful “shadow” program. Staff from one library can visit another and learn how they provide services in different areas of interest. I visited another public library and learned how they handle interlibrary loans and audio ordering, which are two of my primary responsibilities. I also hosted a Reference Librarian from another library who was interested in how our library handles interlibrary loans. Sharing ideas on process and customer service benefits both sides.

Also, our library welcomes suggestions for new programming and committee participation from all staff, librarians and paralibrarians. The idea for a library open house day came from a paralibrarian, and all support staff was very involved in planning, organizing and monitoring events for a very successful day of library activities for families and patrons of all ages. This week the Friends of Reading PL are combining their annual meeting with a Reader’s Advisory program. It’s set up like a “speed dating” where a staffer sits at one table, and every 5 minutes the bell rings and patrons move from table to table. Support Staff is encouraged to book talk, and I will be telling patrons about audiobooks, since part of my regular job includes ordering books on CD, MP3 and Playaway.

Allison Sloan
Senior Library Associate
Reading Public Library, Reading, Massachusetts

I find your question re workplace opportunities beyond “normal duties” quite relevant.

I work at the circulation desk at the Reading Public Library in Reading, Massachusetts, USA. We have a very democratic workplace. Everyone, no matter what his/her job, is welcome to contribute to the library as a whole.

I serve on a committee involved in finding new ways to connect to the community. We meet, discuss and implement our ideas. This is one of several committees formed as part of a five year plan for the library.

I am on a space planning committee that tries to continuously re-work our existing space to better serve our patrons and accommodate our collections as they grow or shrink.

I coordinate the library contribution to a town wide technology fundraiser. I participate in book talks, collection development and weeding projects. I learned very early on that I was free to voice ideas and opinions to help improve something and that my suggestions were welcomed, taken seriously and often implemented. It makes my job more interesting and I have a vested interest in all things related to my workplace.

While I say I do all these things, what I would like to stress is that every employee at our library is involved beyond the “norm” and is welcome and encouraged to help or participate in whatever area they would like. We have found that many different people with many different ideas and opinions make us a very strong library that is better able to serve our public.

Patty O’Donnell
Reading Public Library, Reading, Mass.

As the technical services manager in our library, my job focuses mostly on acquisitions, copy cataloging, weeding and physical care of the books. However, I am fortunate that our director sees our strengths and then encourages us to use them. With my degree in Digital Communication, my artistic ability and my writing skills, I have been given the opportunity to market the library to our students, faculty and staff. As a team we come up with ideas, and then it is my job to implement them. For example, I edit and layout our newsletter, create promotional bulletin boards for special events and promote special library weeks, such as “Banned Book Week”. Working on projects that differ from my regular duties helps me to stay fresh and focused and benefits our college community.

Penny McGinnis
Technical Manager
Clermont College Library,
Batavia, OH

We seem to be able to give our input, but then in another breath we are informed we are nothing because we do not have our Masters degree, so it makes me wonder how much we are truly valued for our input. I do have one supervisor that I am able to talk to about ideas for that area and she does listen to them, and then we work together on making the changes.

Lori Wedig
Periodicals/ILL/IML Assistant

I am a Library Assistant who is able to assist in many different departments in the library and I am lucky to have a supervisor who lets me learn new and different skills pretty much whenever I want.

Kim Wallis
Electronic Resources Coordinator
Sonoma State University Library
Rohnert Park, CA

Library staff at the UCF Library have the opportunity to be members of the Director’s Advisory Group (DAG), the University’s Staff Council (they represent the Univ. Support Personnel Service, USPS) various University committees and search committees. There are no staff represented on the new Library design committees, policy committees or on the new book committees. We are also not encouraged to chair most committees in the library, Librarians and faculty are chosen.

Jamie LaMoreaux
UCF Library
Electronic Resources

We have had brown bag lunches with readings that we discuss. Some of these meeting involve the development of library services and include high level staff. We also have seminars were these issues are discussed and they are sometimes open to the staff. We are asked to comment on papers and plans, and give feedback regarding development of library services.

Callie Bowdish
Davidson Library
University of California, Santa Barbara, CA

At my work there are opportunities if the staff person advocates for the opportunity. If you would like to attend a conference or workshop you advise your supervisor who usually gives permission. The university also asks for assistance in promoting the library. Recently we were requested to present 5 videos between 1-5 minutes on certain aspects of library work. As there are more library technicians than librarians they are staring in these productions.

Also the university has provided a venue for the unconferences that the NSW LT group is presenting.

Janette Telford
Circulation Supervisor
Australian Catholic University
North Sydney, NSW

I am the only library support person at Eastern New Mexico University, Ruidoso Branch Campus. I believe that excellent customer service goes a long way towards improving our service to our patrons. Our campus administration has provided us the opportunity to participate in customer service training given by an outside expert in this field. More than ever I give “service with a smile” (even when having to enforce the rules) and get to know a little about each patron. I have seen some of our students relax a bit more when they use the library’s services, and they seem to learn computer procedures faster when this happens.

Also, we are the media center for the campus, and I get all the training available to help students, staff and faculty utilize the new technologies that we have which, again, improves library services.

Barbara Edwards
ENMU-Ruidoso Library
Ruidoso, NM

One of the ways to contribute to the visibility of the library service is to volunteer whenever possible. I am part of the Eco Committee at our organisation. As part of this committee I edit a quarterly newsletter. The committee deals with environmental and sustainability issues at our workplace. This not only provides me with networking opportunities but also raises the profile of the library with our clients. I am currently also studying for an undergraduate degree, the Bachelor of Information Studies. Our organisation provides this opportunity, supporting staff to expand their horizons and update skills which in the long run benefit the organisation. At present these two extra roles as editor and student keep me quite busy. Lastly, and not the least, many times I have been requested to conduct the library orientation sessions for staff who have recently joined the organisation. It’s challenging, read scary, but advantageous to the profile of the library within the organisation.

Sunita Sagade
Library Technician
Corrective Services, Eastwood, NSW