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Special Interest Group Archive: Library Support Staff 12/04/2018

These are the notes from meetings dating back to 2015.

December 4, 2018

The LSS group met from 9:30am - 12:30pm on 12/4/18 at Southeastern. The meeting was facilitated by Tammy Meyers of Poughkeepsie Public Libary.

Pre-discussion prompt questions

  •  A new skill I would like to learn is…
  • If I could bring any resource into my library it would be…
  • One thing I don’t understand about my library is…
  • The best part of my day is…

These prompt questions led to the later group discussion and allowed participants to make connections.

TOPIC 2: Getting Social Workers in the Library

In this discussion, we talked about what staff can do to help the problem of social issues that manifest in the library.

  • There are places where there is a need for social workers to be there.
  • Bard has the college counseling staff come in so people can come in and talk.
  • How do you get someone to fulfill the job if no one will apply or take the social worker job?
  • It’s frustrating if services are available but people won’t take them.
  • The only way to help people is one at a time and intensive.
  • Patrons are the way to get to the higher ups, they will listen to suggestions from patrons before hearing it from staff.

TOPIC 3: Professional Development

Library Support Staff are interested in keeping up with professional development, but opportunities are not always readily available. During this discussion, participants talked about what they would like to learn and how to find and pay for classes.

  • Web training is a great way to get around hierarchy things, and you can do it on your own time.
  • If professional development costs something, that’s a deterrent to using it for training. There’s not as much for CSEA employees.
  • It always helps to ask and see what happens. It also helps to know what kinds of things you can go to. That is a common problem with both academic and public.
  • It helps to have a director who is pro-professional development.
  • Participating in something helps with reviews to show that you have done professional development.
  • Book binding is a popular topic, and Southeastern is working on getting more of this training to members.
  • Tammy was able to attend ALA this year because she asked to go.

TOPIC 1: The Pecking Order

The conversation during this topic was about how to navigate hierarchies while doing meaningful work.

  • One librarian suggested a program to a co-worker and was told that she had to go through the right order of things in order for the program to happen.
  • At some libraries with strictly defined job descriptions, clerks cover the circulation desk, and they have to send people back to reference for all questions.
  • Bard College has students who are working on a project about class difference, and are pointing out those differences all over. That includes in the staff hierarchy at the college. That particular project shone a light on the library hierarchy.
  • A long time ago, the Dutchess staff went through team training, and it helped them feel included. The immediate impact was a feeling of camaraderie.
  • Keeping the library open and functioning is the most important job at the library, and library staff like to feel recognized for their role with that.
  • The first people who are answering questions are the ones who should know the most.
  • At smaller libraries things are a little different when the staffs are smaller and everyone can do a little bit of everything.
  • When it comes to civil service, there are some strict rules about what can and can’t be done. It also can get confusing.
  • Everyone has their place in the ladder, and it’s also difficult for instance- when pages do clerical work too much.
  • When you don’t have a union, you don’t have well-defined job descriptions. Having good job descriptions resolves a lot of confusion.
  • There are similarities to being a waiter. Your job is really just to bring the food out, but you are responsible for the happiness of all the patrons, and not all of that is under your control.
  • You can make contacts with the people in your network who might make your job easier, like the people that hired the students and do their time sheets.
  • The culture can dictate how well a hierarchy will function.
  • Staff meetings and information dissipation is crucial for a workplace that functions well.


Quote of the Day

"It's nice to come here and realize that we all have similar problems."

Southeastern NY Library Resources Council
21 South Elting Corners Road | Highland, NY 12528
Phone: (845) 883-9065