Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Early Bird Registration Ends June 17th!

Early Bird registration is going on for the SSD conference for a few more days- until June 17th! Register now to take advantage of savings.

If you can't make Early Bird, never fear! Registration is open until July 14th. But for a conference being held at the home of the Ducks (University of Oregon) it only seems appropriate to swoop in now and save.

You can find more details about the conference on the registration page or on our conference page. For any questions please email the conference committee.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Registration for the OLA SSD Conference now open

That's right folks, the time to register for the SSD conference has come around once again!

Details about the conference and pricing information can be found on the 2017 conference page. When you're ready to register, head to the registration page and log in! If you're an OLA member, you should automatically see your reduced pricing.

If you have any questions or something doesn't look right, as always you can drop us a line at and we'd be happy to help you.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The 2017 Support Staff Division Conference : Coming soon!

We are excited that this year's conference is going to be in Eugene at the University of Oregon. Go Ducks! We're thrilled to be returning to a more Southern Oregonian location once again. July is just around the corner, believe it or not!

Like last year, we will be offering some diversity in the format of our sessions, so you can pick and choose which will work best for you. In addition to traditional presentations, we will be offering panels organized under a theme, with several panelists who can speak to their particular area of expertise and plenty of time for moderated discussion. Our panels' themes will be:

  • Accessibility. Providing space and service is good, but providing space and service to everyone is better.
  • Scheduling of all kinds. It can be easy to forget how important the logistics of scheduling staff, space, and other scheduling efforts, but here we'll be focusing in on it.
  • Serving vulnerable populations. A topic that should matter to us all!

We are very excited about our traditional presentations this year as well:

  • We all have new questions and problems to solve in this day and age. Our session on misinformation and political propaganda will hopefully help us all navigate the new politics and media landscape. 
  • How well are you adapting to the changes we are all facing as support staff in the library field? A session on change management may be just the ticket to give you the skills you need to ride the wave.
  • Coming up with good service habits for the average user is a smart move, but how to help people who have different needs? In our "Responding to and Assisting People with Unique Needs" session, you'll be able to add to that service toolkit. 

This year you'll also be seeing the return of an old favorite. Get ready for the comeback of the very popular Day in the Life session, where several of your fellow support staffers will run you through a day of their challenges, wins, and clever workarounds.

If any of this sounds good to you, clear your calendars for July 28th! Registration will be announced soon, so watch for more news and information on that front in the coming weeks.

Questions? Thoughts? Feel free to shoot us an email at We'll see you in Eugene!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Skeptical Supervisors- how to talk about getting involved

So you've thought about it, you've been following the blog, and you've decided it's time to take the plunge and add your skills to the SSD pool. Welcome! You're going to love it around here.

One problem: how do you talk to your boss about taking on extra duties in addition to your already busy day? At first blush, it can sound like a tough sell. But never fear, because we've got a few tips and tricks for showing the benefits to a skeptical supervisor. Take this list, tailor it to your supervisor's concerns, and maybe you can bring them around!

I had a chat with Nancy Horner, the Adult Services Manager at the Eugene Public Library and supervisor of our very own Margaret Harmon-Myers, to see why she is so supportive of her staff's involvement with SSD and similar groups. She supervises eleven paraprofessional staff and ten librarians (soon to be eleven), so she has had lots of experience with support staff and how being involved can benefit a supervisor and the institution. Here's what she had to say:

  1. Getting involved "builds knowledge that increases confidence and pleasure in work." And when you like your work, you're better at it, happier, and more able to expand your skills.
  2. Support staffers who learn outside the workplace can bring back and share the things they learn, compounding the benefits across the entire staff. Nancy mentioned that among the many things her staff has brought in, she has especially appreciated the programming ideas, new services for their patrons, and improvements to the processes already in place. Often, her staff are able to "teach the teacher" so to speak, enhancing her work as well.
  3. When new equipment or services are offered in Eugene Public, it's often her staff who take the lead in instructing patrons in their use. In their new makerspace, her staff both created and implemented much of the teaching material for the public. Nancy thinks that getting involved was pivotal for giving her staff the confidence and know-how needed for the project. 
  4. Scheduling time for outside-the-library work has turned out to be pretty simple for Nancy and her staff. Their approach has been to use a flex-time model (made with guidance from the union her staff are a part of), which allows the library to easily compensate everyone for all their work regardless of whether that work takes place outside of regular hours. In their system, ALL professional development is considered work time.
  5. My last question for her was whether she had anything she'd like to say directly to a supervisor with worries about their staff getting involved with SSD. I'll let her speak for herself: "I would beg them to put those worries aside. The benefits to the institution, the people we serve, and colleagues are impossible to count. We should celebrate anytime anyone wants to increase their knowledge. It's always a gain. If anyone's on an upward path it becomes a rising tide that lifts all boats. Really, an inspiration. All of the paraprofessionals on our staff inspire one another and grow stronger as a team in everything that they do."
I couldn't have said it better myself. According to Nancy, Margaret is an exceptional support staffer, even receiving an award for service from OLA at Nancy's recommendation. To me, that stands as a testament to both her work ethic and commitment as well as the power of getting involved. Put simply, being an SSD member makes you a better employee, and we can make sure your daily work is minimally impacted to boot.

Have questions? Want advice in your specific situation? Drop us a line at and we'll be happy to help!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Library Cats

As the holiday season approaches, many of us have gifts, food, and family on the mind. And, if you fit the "library person" stereotype as well as I do, you include your furry relatives in the family category as well. How could I not with this weird creature in my house?

Yes, I did use the same photo of my cat twice with different text on this blog. 

There's just something about books and cats that seem to go well together, and the existence of "library cats" proves it! In the distant past, cats were used in libraries to keep away rodents and other pests, but these days they stick around simply to nap, patrol the stacks, be our mascots, and make our patrons feel at home. Library cats are rarer than they once were, but if you take some time you can find them still today. And they may be more common than you think.

One filmmaker in Massachusetts, Gary Roma, created a documentary about library cats called "Puss in Books: Adventures of the Library Cat," and as part of his research he created a list of all the library cats in Oregon, past and present. [EDIT 1/26/2017: Looks like this domain has expired unfortunately. If we find another list, you'll be the first to know!] I don't know about you, but I find that to be essential information for all library staff.

Library cats are sometimes so essential to the library that it can cause a public outcry when they lose their jobs. Browser was a library cat in White Settlement, Texas, but when the City Council voted to fire him, the response was so immediate and overwhelming that they reversed their decision unanimously. Library cats of the world, rejoice!

Do you have a library cat, or know of one? Share their story! You'll have at least one support staffer listening with rapt attention.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

A Haunted Library Right Here in Oregon!

The spookiest time of year is upon us, and what could be spookier than a big, old building full of books? All those people long gone, whispering to us from the afterlife through the books they've written... no wonder that some libraries have stories of spirits wandering through the stacks. In fact, some of them are located right here in Oregon!

In my informal poking around on this subject, I started noticing that Multnomah County Library's North Portland branch was popping up over and over as a spot to possibly encounter one of these patrons-from-beyond-the-veil. So we reached out to see if anyone had heard any of these tales for themselves, and Patrick Provant had something strange happen to him there once...
The North Portland Library

Patrick Provant is now the supervisor at Midland Library in the Multnomah County Library system, but he used to work at North Portland back in the early 2000's. He had this to say:
"People said that things moved around now and then, and were sometimes found where they shouldn't be. I attributed that to humans. Another story alleged that the security cameras had captured an image when no one was in the building. Whatever. I scoff at ghost stories that never quite have actual proof. One thing I could not explain was the hand-dryer in the upstairs rest room.

What it did: randomly came on.
When it did it: Like, whenever. Sometimes when you were in there using the facilities. A bit disconcerting, to be sure.

We duly reported this malfunction. Although memory is inexact, I think I recall at least two different wiring experts 'fixing' it and the whole hand dryer unit being replaced at one point. Didn't matter.

I started playing games with 'the ghost'. When I was using the rest room, I'd say things like, 'Don't look, please,' mainly to amuse myself. Or, 'if you're here, could you turn the dryer on now?' Once in a while, the timing was interesting, and it actually would be convenient. I got into the habit of saying 'thank you', just in case.

On one particular day, I was encouraging the 'ghost' with no success. I was in the middle of my lunch hour (the staff break room is next door to the rest room in question) and had gone in to use the rest room, and had hoped for a fun coincidental moment. 'Aw, come on, turn it on!' Pause. 'Fine, I bet you a nickel you won't turn it on.' Pause. I sighed and dried my hands by myself. I went back to my lunch in the break room and found (I kid you not) a nickel sitting by my half-eaten lunch.

(Of course I took it! It was a fair bet.)"
A ghost with a sense of humor! I suppose libraries attract all kinds. And this isn't the only report he brought to us from North Portland.
"Some students from the Jefferson High School newspaper had heard tell of an NPO ghost. Somehow they got routed to me, so I escorted them upstairs, telling them about the hand dryer. One student was taking notes, the other had a videocamera and was filming. We got just outside the rest room and the camera person zoomed in as I opened the door. The one with the notepad stepped in with me as I said: 'And here is the hand dryer, the one that sometimes just goes on by itself.'

Whooooooo! The hand dryer, unassisted by a human and on camera, went off as if on cue. The young reporter with me hurtled back out of the room. They were pretty excited and took a moment or two to calm down, but decided that they had in fact got what they needed."
Clearly, someone likes to fool around with anyone curious enough to wonder about this haunting.

Have you ever experienced something ghostly in your library? Feel free to share your story in the comments!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

To the Friends of the Library

Libraries receive money from a variety of sources. Our taxes, special levies, grants, tuition dollars, private donations, and more all contribute to our thriving culture of libraries. But one source has a special place in my heart: Friends of the Library. Since next week is officially Friends of the Library week, I thought I'd tell my own story about my local Friends.

I've been a member of my local Friends for several years now, so I've seen first hand how much value they bring to our community. The way mine (Friends of Salem Public Library, by the way) is structured, they receive withdrawn books from the SPL collection as well as donations from the community, then sell them at a huge discount from their own little store inside the library. Every dollar they make goes to helping the library: for collection development, capital projects, and more.

But it's not just the money they raise. At their big semi-annual sales, I see people who can't afford to own books any other way going home with bags of them. I see kids balancing tall stacks of books with big smiles on their faces, knowing that those are their books and they don't have to share. I see collectors find just the right book, ecstatic to finally fill that empty spot on their shelf. The Friends help them all, all while bringing money back to the public library that offers so many services to these same people. Then they can offer more/better services, collect in more areas, on and on... It's a snowball of benefits and I love to watch it work.

As a full time support staffer, I've spent a lot of time in libraries and I've met a variety of people who are passionate about what libraries do. We support staffers do our essential part to ensure that libraries across the state function well. Friends groups are a great example of the power that regular people, whether they be library employees or not, have to improve their community. So this post serves as my little shout out to the folks who volunteer their time, energy, and expertise to make these organizations possible. Thank you!