ASSOCIATES (vol. 8 no. 1, July 2001) -

Conference Activities of the
Mountains and Plains PARAPROS

(formerly the Metro Area PARAPROS)



Shirley Soenksen
Library Technician II
University of Northern Colorado Libraries

August 2000 Annual Conference

A diverse group of 200 paraprofessionals gathered at the University of Northern Colorado to attend the Metro Area PARAPROS Ninth Annual Conference on Friday, August 11, 2000. Committee members deserve a round of applause for their dedication and hard work in making this conference our largest and most successful conference to date. Meetings and lunch were held in the University Center while the computer related sessions were held in the computer Instruction Centers on the third floor of the James A. Michener Library. We dealt with a few minor glitches with technology, the buffet lunch, and insufficient time scheduled to walk between buildings, but otherwise we successfully cruised right through the day. Attendees enjoyed the relaxing atmosphere of the conference, learned many new things, and had the opportunity to network with other paraprofessionals.

Jamie LaRue, Library Director of the Douglas County Public Library District, kicked off the conference with an stimulating, humorous, and informative keynote speech entitled "The Next 100 Years." He addressed the key role librarianship will play in the 21st century and addressed some of the political and social implications of "significant library trends," such as the crisis in school libraries, library funding, and technology. One person wrote on the evaluations that "Jamie LaRue is probably the best example of forward thinking librarianship in Colorado."

Paraprofessionals had numerous informative and well-prepared sessions to choose from. Richard Gibboney, Library Technician II with the James A. Michener Special Collection at the University of Northern Colorado,, explored how James A. Michener used "family history in his novels and his own family history."

The ever-popular Pat Wagner discussed how revolutions in technology have changed how people communicate and how technology will affect libraries in the future. In a second presentation, Pat Wagner enlightened the audience in the mechanics of using JOY to manage change and stressful situations at work. Jamie LaRue moderated a lively panel discussion on censorship with Martin Garnar of Regis University and Matt Miller of the Tattered Cover. Judy Volc of the Boulder Public Library offered suggestions on how to develop and present ideas for Children's Programming.

Linda Millemann of the Tattered Cover stressed the importance of providing excellent customer service not only to the external customers (library patrons) but also to the internal customers (co-workers) who "work together" to provide services to "fill the needs of the external customer." Connie Willis, the award winning science fiction author and a graduate of the University of Northern Colorado, discussed her new book, "Passage," about a fictionalized near death experience. She also discussed how to break into science fiction writing for library paraprofessionals while telling graphic stories about her early writing career. She included in the discussion four primary rules for writers including: "never kill the dog."

Liz Bischoff, Project Director of the Colorado Digitization Project, gave an excellent introduction to the Colorado Digitization Project,, and how libraries, archives, museums, and historical societies in Colorado collaborate "to increase access" to their materials.

Briefly, Anita Williams, founder of Williams Design Group, introduced the basics of HTML and how to create a web page. Lynne Fox of the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center described several strategies to use when searching for "relevant and reliable medical information" on the web. A web page to support her presentation is available at: George Machovec of the Colorado Alliance of Research Libraries gave a brief introduction to Prospector,, a "unified catalog" of the holdings of sixteen Colorado and Wyoming libraries. Mary Kay Wilder shared three indispensable steps she uses to provide Top Reference Service to patrons at the Arapahoe County Library District: reference interviews, print sources, and top websites.

Through the years the Metro Area PARAPROS have been able to increase participation from a wider area than just the Denver Metro Area, so the attendees voted to change the name of the organization to the Mountains and Plains Parapros. Essentially, our mission statement has remained the same.

The Mountains and Plains Parapros is a non-profit, non-membership group for all library paraprofessionals and support staff. Our goal is to provide a vehicle for expression and as a means to focus on issues that directly impact library parapros. This group is different from many others in that we do not promote the concept of membership. There are no dues, no affiliations, and no formal organization. We feel that by working in libraries, we are automatically "members" of a large constituency. Mountains and Plains Parapros attempts to provide a voice and a network for library support staff.

February 2001 Mid-Year Conference

Around thirty paraprofessionals gathered at the Aurora Public Library (Aurora, Colorado) to learn how to advance their careers. Rachel Singer Gordon shared information on how paraprofessionals can use the Internet to advance their careers. She is head of computer services at the Franklin Park Library (Illinois), a published author, and owner of, a website containing information on job resources for "librarians and information professionals."

Keynote speech, "New Technology, New Opportunities: Advancing your Library Career in the Internet Age:

Handout, "Online Resources for Net Savvy Parapros:"

Pat Criscito, a Certified Professional Resume Writer (she has written over 10,000 of them) inspired the audience with her twelve-step process to writing the perfect resume. She also stressed the importance of using the Internet to create online resumes. For "Twelve Steps to a Better Resume," see: For more information on Pat Criscito, check the ProType, Ltd. home page (She is the founder and President):

The information contained in this article has been compiled with the help of committee members from the past two years, especially Kate Skarbek and Michael Dombrowski.

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