Friday, August 6, 2010

A Couple of (not necessarily related) SSD Thoughts

Thought 1: Three weeks ago, SSD gathered for its 16th conference. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole day. Mo Cole's keynote address was full of good advice, interspersed with a lot of fun. Every session I attended was interesting, informative, and definitely worthwhile; I wish I could have gone to all of them. It was fun to be able to peak into the book repair workshop. And, as always, I enjoyed reconnecting with SSD friends I hadn't seen for awhile.

At the same time, I was a little sad. 16 years ago, the SSD conference regularly had over 200 attendees. Attendance began to drop off eventually. After one year, when we seriously considered dropping the conference entirely, we decided to down-size in order to continue the conference while still at least breaking even financially. This has served SSD well. But I hope, some day, the economy, and support for support staff, will once again allow SSD to have a larger conference.

Though 2: Several months ago, I wrote about my concern over the fact that support staff in some Oregon libraries do not receive support from their institutions to participate in OLA and SSD. At the OLA leadership retreat this past Monday, outgoing SSD chair Susan Gilmont and incoming chair Susan Bacina brought up this issue. It led to a lively discussion; I didn't attend the second day of the retreat, but I understand the discussion continued then, leading to some action items. I'll let The Susans fill us in on those.

But I do want to say how encouraging it was to hear OLA leaders strongly supporting support staff who are willing to be involved in OLA. There was no question that all who participate actively in OLA are equally valuable. I can't think of anything else to say, except "Wow!"


  1. I look forward to hearing about the discussion. I agree with Jey's comments, it is very sad to see our #s at the conference dropping. On the upside, I am thrilled with Deschutes Public Library's financial support of certification. We have 3 people who will actively persue it.

    I am disturbed by the fact that we still do not have a solid nomination for Vice Chair of SSD. Who will lead the Division in 2011? What will happen to the Division if no one is willing and/or able to take on the role?

    Cathy Zgraggen, SSD Past Chair

  2. Well, by speaking up about the various obstacles to support staff participation in OLA, Susan Bacina and I got ourselves put on a "barriers task force" to look at barriers to participation for staff at all levels -- money (or the lack thereof); distance (Oregon is a big state) and the lack of infrastructure, including electronic infrastructure for meeting online; hostile or indifferent administrations; hostile or non-supportive supervisors; the bad economy -- everything that might get in the way of involvement and development through work with a professional association like OLA. We'll be working on this with folks from the Public Library Division. My hopes are that we will identify the barriers that are out there, have some suggestions and resources for individuals who are dealing with these issues, and outline a proposed course of action for OLA to take in response to identified barriers.

    Susan Gilmont, SSD current chair