Monday, December 17, 2012

Shoulder D's

Art by Alicia Martin
It the time of year when people are cleaning out their living spaces and consequently returning more books. If you've seen an uptick in returns, remember to take a stretch break from checkin and shelving regularly!

There are a lot of stretches you can do to relax your shoulders, but the simplest - shoulder rolls - for a long time were a mystery to me. They usually made me more tense and sore.  They provided no relief.  Fortunately, a physical therapist told me to try much smaller rolls, like a tiny, lower case "o" as opposed to the Indy 500 laps I was trying to do. Et, voilà! Shoulder relaxation.

And a further refinement of the shoulder roll - if you do most of your reaching forward, which I think most shelvers do (I haven't seen anyone talented enough they can shelve behind themselves without looking), try shoulder "D"s instead. That is where you roll your shoulders straight up and around to the back, with no forward movement as your shoulders have already gotten enough motion in that direction... from shelving!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Six degrees of separation

When I started teaching a blogging class at my library I became fascinated with this concept.  (Not as enchanted as I was with WYSIWYG – I mean how can you not be charmed by an apparently random group of letters that actually means something  and is super fun to say out loud?)
Nevertheless “six degrees of separation” is a fascinating idea and I used it in the class to demonstrate the potential impact of the students’ blogs as well as the interconnectedness of humans – something that has perhaps grown exponentially since the advent of the world wide web.

You’ve probably heard of it, right?  According to Wikipedia, six degrees of separation  is the idea that everyone is approximately six or fewer steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person in the world, so that a chain of “a friend of a friend” statements can be made, on average, to connect any two people in six steps.” It was championed by Frigyes Karinthy in his 1929 short story, Chains and popularized by a play written in 1990 by John Guare, later turned into a film.
Various experiments have been conducted to try to prove the theory, both mathematically and socially, and while no definitive proof is there, the results tend to support it.  And there is Network Theory, which looks at how networks form and work in society, not just in people’s social lives, but also in disease transmission, job searching, how the web works and so on.

Six degrees of separation seems to go along with the phrase “small world”, something we say a lot as in, “Man, it’s a small world!” and “What a small world, isn’t it?”  So it’s not surprising that Columbia University embarked on a project they named “Small World” in order to test the six degrees of separation theory in cyberspace using email to send information to a friend, to pass to another friend, and so on in order to reach a specific targeted person in as few contacts as possible.  This was similar to the snail mail experiment run by a psychologist in the sixties to test the theory.  Although both experiments were flawed the results seem to support the six degrees idea.
As far as networks of any kind or many kinds go, we may be intimately connected to people around the world without knowing it, especially since we don’t know them!   But when we talk about blogs the world is very, very big.  Statistics show that the average blog is read by perhaps two dozen people - after all, there are billions of blogs on the world wide web.  Hmmm, wonder if we could do an experiment with connecting people through the blogs they read?  Would the six degrees of separation theory still hold or not?

If you want to read more, check out these websites: The oracle of bacon at Virginia  Kevin Bacon Primetime TV tests the six degrees theory  Small World

Monday, December 10, 2012

LSSC Free Webinar Today and Tomorrow

The American Library Association-Allied Professional Association’s Library Support Staff Certification (LSSC) Program will be offering two free webinars in December. Anyone interested in the programs are welcome to sign up by clicking the links below.
December 10th, 2pm Central Time – An Introduction to the LSSC Program
On Monday, December 10th at 2:00 pm (Central), LSSC will offer an hour-long webinar on the program and how it works.  The presentation will explain the value of this certification to Library Support Staff, employers, and library users. You will also have the opportunity to have all of your questions answered by program staff members. This webinar is open to all interested candidates. Register to attend at
December 11th, 3pm Central Time – Preparing a Portfolio
Many LSSC candidates want to prepare portfolios to meet LSSC requirements.  On Tuesday, December 11 at 2:00 pm (Central), LSSC will offer an hour-long webinar explaining what the LSSC Program requires in a portfolio. The presentation will also give you the chance to see examples of successful submissions and learn how your portfolio will be evaluated. This webinar is open to all interested candidates. Register to attend at:
Ian Lashbrook -
Research Associate
American Library Association-Allied Professional Association
50 E Huron St
Chicago IL 60611-2795

Monday, December 3, 2012

The 4 (and 1/2) steps to Library Support Staff Certification

Let’s Talk about Library Support Staff Certification

Currently there are 312 active candidates in the LSSC program and 22 graduates ”The Library Support Staff Certification Program is for Library Support Staff who have a high-school degree or its equivalent and worked (paid or unpaid) in libraries for at least one year (or its equivalent of 1820 hours) in the last 5 years and want to:
  • Achieve recognition for your work 
  • Enhance your service 
  • Increase your skills & knowledge”

For the most up-to-date information about the program you will want to read the October 2012 issue of Breaking News ( “Breaking News”, which I believe is published quarterly, will also provide you with information about course subsidies to help pay costs, any changes in the program, as well as new classes that have become available. This is sent by email to all program participants.

It is true that through the classes I have taken, I have “enhanced my customer service skills and I have increased my skills and knowledge.” I was doing fine in my job, but knew I could do better if I added library-specific skills (reference, readers advisory) and knowledge (classification systems, ils systems) to my career toolbox.

Friday, November 30, 2012

What's the holdup?

Umm... has this ever happened to you?  You're going through donated books and hello! A library employee in Indiana got a surprise last month.  The weirdest thing? It's not the first time.  Be careful in the book drop, fellow SSDers.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Top 5 customer service tips for your library

Here are the top 5 things that I have learned while training and learning about customer service for many (many!) years. Like all things the more I learn, the more there is to learn. Life is a work in progress!

Be healthy!
Eat well, exercise and get enough sleep. It is much easier to be helpful if you feel good.

3 Cs! Make a connection. Have a conversation. Create options.
Connect with a smile, eye contact or by listening to cute cat stories. Good conversations often include clear simple language and are at least 50% listening. Create options based on what will work for this patron or co-worker.

It is everyone’s job to make everyone else’s job easier.
If every co-worker tried to make things easier on the people they work with, wouldn’t the world be a lovely place? Do your fair share of the workload. Be kind, courteous and open to others’ ideas.

You can only control your own behavior and expectations.
You cannot make anyone else behave the way you want. However, by setting a good tone and working collaboratively, you will be amazed at how many patrons and co-workers will follow your lead. Set reasonable expectations -- it is impossible for everyone to do things your way all the time! -- so that you can avoid disappointment and be open to new ways of thinking and doing.

Forgive and forget.
Holding on to negative feelings is extremely stressful. Be good to yourself and others and let it go. Let minor disappointments go quickly. For more major issues, remember that everyone makes mistakes and that people often grow and change. Give it some time, then give people another chance. 

Jennifer Steward is the Circulation Analyst for Multnomah County Libraries, and is a regular blogger on sup·port·abil·i·ty.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Althetes of the library

Perusing the various websites that address the subject of library ergonomics can be slightly on the boring side of things: pdf files aimed at management or dry documents put out by insurance companies.  However, some of the sites are really well done and have some eye-catching teasers and fascinating information. For example: "And working with computers, mice, and monitors requires many of the same skills that successful athletes have."  Whaaat?  And did you know your head weighs 15 pounds?

This comes to us from the UC Riverside Libraries ergonomics website, a comprehensive list of ergonomics for using computers in the library.  Some of the info looks a bit dated - the link for keyboard shortcuts takes you to a site listing Windows 95 shortcuts, but hey, they still work.

Go check out their tips and while you may not end up confidently pole vaulting over your cubicle, I guarantee you will sit up a little straighter at your computer.

Monday, November 19, 2012


Yes, the political campaigning is over, however there's one more election left in November. You may have noticed our officer list has been updated over on the right side of your screen, and you may have noticed that some of the positions are vacant. That's where you, the OLA Support Staff Members come in: the ballot for open positions can be found here, so go vote!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Yo ho ho and a bottle of... water

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici /
In response to my last post on ergonomics (for your eyes), I received an email from the folks at with a nice little note saying we can use any information on their site because "We want it to help as many people as possible." They sent me a link for Office Safety Tips, which are not library specific, but I'm sure some of us in libraries work in offices, right?

The one thing that really jumped out at me that I haven't seen in any ergonomics presentations before was the command to "Stay hydrated".  Good advice!  Which got me thinking about the water bottle I always have close at hand at my job in a public library, which got me thinking about food and drink in libraries in general and situations where that is and isn't allowed.  I've had retail jobs where employees were not allowed to drink on the sales floor because of the image it presented, and I remember being thirsty for a good part of the time.  I would imagine that it is a no-no for people that work in archiving situations, but what about other libraries?  When I tell patrons they are welcome to bring food in to the library, I get looks of disbelief and a repeat of the question with a "really?" attached to it.  Was there a time when it was not ok to bring food and drink into a public library that has lingered in the mind of the collective? I would imagine it was when "shushing" was still really prevalent. Which may or may not show my age.

So what's the verdict: Does your library allow you to have food and drink in the building? How do you stay properly hydrated at work?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Quick Ergonomics tip for your eyes - 20/20/20

If you sit at a computer screen for any amount of time, this is a handy way to easily relax your eyes, and potentially save your eyesight.

Remember 20/20/20:  Look 20 feet away, every 20 minutes for 20 seconds.

Now you just need to figure out how to estimate what in your library is 20 feet away. :)

Monday, October 22, 2012

The National PAC for libraries - Help fund library campaigns in the US!

You may have received this message from Turner Masland through the libs-or mailing list, if not, here is a neat way to help out libraries around the country. And as of this post, Oregon has climbed to #4 in the fund-raising totals with $250!

"Hopefully by now you have all heard of EveryLibrary - a start up National PAC whose mission is to build financial and tactical support to ensure that local library initiatives pass at the ballot box.

EveryLibrary is attempting to raise $50,000 by November 7th. This money will be used to (A) Fundraise nationally to transfer "seed money" to local ballot committees and PACs; (B) Hire great campaign consultants to make sure we do voter outreach and education right; and (C) Fund full time staff to keep the PAC engine growing for future success.

In an attempt to hit this goal by election day, (founder)John Chrastka has put forth a challenge to every state to raise $1,000. Here are how the top six states are doing so far:

NY - $1185
NJ - $700
CA - $255
CO - $145
TX - $125
OR - $110

Oregon is still in it to win it! We are only $890 short. Which means, if 89 people each threw in $10, we could hit $1000 in no time
Donating can be done online here:
You can also follow our progress on Facebook and Twitter.

If you haven't already, be sure to read John's great article over at American Libraries."

Monday, October 15, 2012

Ouch! Ergonomics for (not just) library shelving

Hi, Rebecca here. I'm the person behind the blog for the SSD and will be occasionally blogging about library ergonomics, as it's something of a personal interest of mine.  I'm by no means an expert, so will be relying extensively on what I find on the web.

There is a really great guide of do's and don'ts for library shelving from the folks in Environmental Health & Radiation(!) Safety at the University of Pennsylvania.  It is a MS PowerPoint document.  If you don't have PowerPoint on your computer, you can look at it through Google Docs Viewer.

Did you know:
"Pinch grip strength is approximately 25% of the strength of using the whole hand, increasing the risk of wrist injury." After thinking about it, it makes sense that using your thumb and only 1/4 of your fingers would be 25% of your hand strength!

Remember to shift between using your right and left sides for shelving.  It can be difficult to get  used to using your non-dominant hand, but that has the added benefit of slowing you down (for a little while anyway) and decreasing your chance for injury even further.

There's a handy chart with the maximum weights for shelving tasks based on starting and ending points.  My only further question is how many items does that translate to?  Books are deceptively heavy.

When you don't lift with your knees, guess how much 10 pounds feels like in your back.  

So my questions to you, dear readers, are: what is your favorite alternative to the "pinch grip"?  What stretches do you use at work, if any?  Will you start stretching after reading this?  Do you know how much what you shelve weighs?

Monday, September 24, 2012

5 Tips for Providing Great Customer Service To Your Coworkers
Jennifer Steward, Circulation Analyst for Multnomah County Libraries, is with us again to give us her expertise in customer service.  You may have seen her excellent presentation with Patti Vincent at our recent Gateways Conference.  We hope to make this a regular feature.  Welcome, Jennifer!
Five ways to give awesome internal customer service in your library by using your excellent public service skills:
  • Set a pleasant and professional tone.
It is surprising how much one person's calm and helpful tone elevates the whole conversation. If you smile, you will probably get a smile back.
  • Be as courteous. 
As with family, it can be easy to fall into comfortable shortcuts and forget please, thank you, etc. with coworkers. Why would you be less courteous to the people on your team than you would to a stranger?
  • Use your good communication skills -- listen(!), ask questions and summarize to reach understanding.
Before you dismiss a coworker's suggestion, use your interview skills to figure out what is important to this person and how you might be able to meet her need or at least find an acceptable compromise.
  • Keep an eye out for people who need help.
This works in both in public and staff areas. If a coworker is having a difficult interaction, stand by and let him know you are paying attention. If someone is struggling with a task, offer to help out. Always ask if you can help first -- or just ask if everything is OK -- in case he has it under control.
  • Be a reliable source of information.
Library staff pride themselves on giving only quality information from a credible source to patrons. Why would you or your coworkers deserve less? Before you pass on the latest gossip, make sure your information is true -- and kind.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Look at your library. Now look at mine.

A brilliant video from the Harold B. Lee Library at Brigham Young: You can easily get sucked down the YouTube path to more library videos - what are your favorites?

Monday, August 6, 2012

More Retro Library Posters and One Amazing Garden

RETRO POSTER - Your Library Has Loads of Information Visit your school library!  This is part of a flickr set posted by user Enokson, who is a Library Technician in a school. I especially like the one with the cat reading about lions.  She also has some fascinating photos of textbook damage, although why I find them more fascinating when photographed instead of in real life, I don't know.  Have any of you dug up any treasures in your libraries?

And I highly encourage you to check out the Huntington Library's fully renovated Japanese Gardens. The photos of the grounds are breath-taking. I, for one, would not mind having that kind of an area for breaks during work.  Where is your favorite place to take breaks at your library?

Monday, July 30, 2012

An Amazing Estate Sale

I enjoy going to garage sales, although I rarely go out of my way to attend one.  I'm intrinsically cheap, so I like the idea of picking up some cool kitchen gadget, or attractive bit of decoration, for next to nothing.  I rarely see books I want, though; it's amazing how many copies of The Da Vinci Code there are in the world, for instance.

This past weekend was an exception.  My significant other, Mark, and I happened on an estate sale a few blocks from our house while we were walking to the grocery store.  It was a beautiful, large 4-bedroom house, and evidently had been inhabited by one person alone.  Two of the four bedrooms were libraries.

We were enthralled.  The books were mostly hardbacks, and in beautiful condition.  The collection was eclectic, but tended towards science, history, and economics, and the books were well-organized.  There was even a shelf of books about books and libraries; I bought a copy of The Island of Lost Maps, which I've been planning to read since I heard about it at a session at the OLA conference.  We bought as much as we could fit in our backpacks (mostly science), and had to go home to drop them off before we could haul any groceries.  We ended up going back twice in the next day (when everything was half price), the second time specifically to get a book by Buckminster Fuller that Mark had noticed the day before.

It wasn't until I was going through my haul yesterday evening that I noticed all the books have small labels on the spines.  Yes, they were classified!  Each had the first part of the LC class number (but didn't include the cutter).  I've wondered why there's still Cataloging in Publication in books, since most libraries get their records from OCLC, but here was an example of why CIP can still be useful.

I ended up wishing I'd know the person (who, according to someone who knew him, was a computer programmer, not a librarian).  We definitely had interests in common, and, judging from his library, I'd say he was in the wrong profession.  Whoever he was, I'll think fondly of him as I work my way through this rich bounty of books.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Library takes over Walmart!

Well, not really, but the people in McAllen, Texas certainly have enough space now that an abandoned Walmart has been converted into a library.  What a great idea!

Within the first month following the opening, new user registration increased by 23%.

Have you all seen this outdoor library/art installation by Massimo Bartolini?

Who would like to be responsible for getting the books inside when it rains?  Let's see a show of hands...

Monday, July 23, 2012

A quick "Thank you!"

Thank you to everyone who attended, to all the conference committee members, and everyone involved for making this year's OLA Support Staff Conference such a success!  The theme "Support Staff: Changing Lives Every Day" was definitely prevalent throughout the day, from the opening keynote by Brian Doyle, to A Day in the Life, to Connecting with Youth, and so much more. 

We hope you all had a fantastic time and we'll see you next year in Hood River!

Friday, July 13, 2012

We Want You!

When I took over as archivist almost three years ago I still felt like a newbie to the Support Staff Division.  I wondered how I could step into the previous archivist's shoes in being a steward of the archives and I wondered if I would fit in with the group. I soon learned that acceptance in SSD was automatic when I volunteered to be a part of it; that I had a home among my peers.  Serving on two conference committees and chairing a third was a wonderful introduction to SSD and I encourage anyone new to the organization to give it a try.

Beginning as the Library Support Staff Round Table in 1992, the support staff division is an active, dedicated group of library workers.  Naturally in the past couple of years we have said goodbye to some of our long-time members as they retired, to others who stepped back for a well-deserved rest from active board roles but they continue as members of SSD;  making room for new members to take on those active roles.  This keeps the organization vibrant, vital, alive - we all get excited to have new members join and become active to whatever degree they want.  But, you know, I miss the past members and their memories that go back to the early days.  I want to hear those stories, pick their brains, make sure I'm not missing some important piece of knowledge.  Maybe I just miss something I never really knew personally, that exciting wonderful newness when SSD was born and began to grow.  Because naturally it has evolved and changed these twenty years as have the world and the world of libraries.

As I get ready to step into the role of Chair I am leaving the Archivist position.  We need YOU to jump in and continue the "keeping of the history" for the Support Staff Division!  The Archivist attends the board meetings, either in person or virtually, about 6 times a year (we have a netbook with the setup in place, camera, and mic for this purpose, or you can call in for audio only.)  We offer scholarships for first time membership in the Oregon Library Association if you need financial assistance to meet this requirement.  As a board member you have voting rights and can participate in exciting collaboration with your peers to keep SSD vital and dynamic. 
If you want more information please contact me here

Sunday, June 24, 2012

ALA-APA announces financial assistance for LSSC Candidates

Hello Colleagues and Potential Candidates!

The Library Support Staff Certification (LSSC) Program announced today that it is offering $200 subsidies for 75 candidates to complete LSSC approved courses.  If the cost of the course is less than $200, the subsidy will cover the cost of the entire course minus materials such as books, etc.  LSSC is a national, voluntary certification program administered by the American Library Association-Allied Profession Association (ALA-APA).

All LSSC candidates are eligible to receive a subsidy by completing an application form available here. ALA-APA will give first preference to those candidates who have not received a previous subsidy. To apply for a subsidy, applicants must enroll in the LSSC by July 30, 2012. LSSC enrollment information is available here. Recipients will be chosen using a random selection process; ALA-APA will announce subsidy awards on August 6, 2012.

Recipients must complete an LSSC approved course by April 1, 2013.  A catalog of approved courses is available here. To receive the subsidy, recipients must add a Course Certification Certificate to their candidate record and send proof of course payment to LSSC. 

More information about the course subsidies is available at our website.

The LSSC is partially funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.  For more information, please contact LSSC staff at lssc@org or Ian Lashbrook.

Ian Lashbrook -
Research Associate
American Library Association-Allied Professional Association
50 E Huron St
Chicago IL 60611-2795

Friday, June 8, 2012

Fix-it Friday : Tip-In Tips

This week's Fix-it Friday presents one of the simplest and quickest book repairs -- tipping in loose pages -- with some tricks for making it even simpler!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

SSD Conference Breakout Session: Coping with Change

We have some great breakout sessions planned for this year's SSD conference. Here is some more information about the Coping with Change session:

If the first three things you think of when you hear about a change at work are “not this again,” or “if I hear about one more change, I'm just going to spit,” or “I can’t take this anymore,” then attend this session! Together we’ll explore the human side of change, trade tips on living through change, and talk about skills which will help you, and therefore your employer, get through change at work. Libraries are being challenged to be adaptable and flexible in order to survive; that has to start with staff. In his session, we’ll work together to adapt our attitudes about change from evil, awful, and horrid to exciting, invigorating and stimulating.

Presenter Bio: Maureen (Mo) Cole is the Director of the Oregon City Public Library, moving to that position in 2009 after working at the Eugene Public Library for 3 years and the Kellenberger Library at Northwest Christian University for 10 years. This year marks her 20th year as a librarian and she notes that the technology has completely changed during that time. Maureen brings a unique perspective because of her broad range of experiences in special, school, academic and public libraries in volunteer, classified and management positions ranging from technical services to public services. She was even a library board member at one point. Even though she is certain that the pace of change has completely exceeded our human capacity to change, she knows that library staff are superheroes who are up to any challenge.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

OLA SSD 2012 Keynote Speaker Brian Doyle

We are very excited to have Oregon writer Brian Doyle as our keynote speaker at this year's conference. Among various honors for his work is the Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Mink River, published by Oregon State University Press, was an Oregon Book Awards finalist for 2012. Read why Lake Oswego Public Library chose Mink River for its 2012 city-wide reading program. Watch Brian on Live Wire, taped at the live radio show on November 18, 2011.

The University of Oregon bookstore will be at the conference selling copies of Brian's books -- he's written 10 including Thirsty for the Joy: Australian and American VoicesEpiphanies and Elegies, and The Wet Engine. Books from other Oregon authors will also be available

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

SSD seeking new Chair

The Support Staff Division of the Oregon Library Association is seeking candidates for Vice-chair/Chair-elect. This is a three year commitment -- serving one year as vice-chair, one year as chair, and one year as past-chair. This is an excellent opportunity for professional and personal development. Although it is a lot of work, it is also very rewarding, and you make a lot of great friends and contacts along the way. The thing to remember if the prospect seems daunting is that you're never alone in any aspect of the "job" -- the rest of the board and the past chairs are always there with you. - Susan Bacina Past-Chair, OLA/SSD

From Sean Park, current SSD Chair :

SSD is a wonderfully diverse group of library professionals, ranging from supervisors and shelvers to IT and children's librarians, and countless other areas of expertise across the spectrum of libraries in Oregon, from large to small.

I entered my term as SSD Board Chair with a sense of wonder and excitement (and a bit of bewilderment), as I previously did not have much exposure to SSD and almost no exposure to OLA. The SSD past-chairs were my lifeline (one serves on the Board and is an invaluable asset to the Chair), and helped me feel welcome while answering all questions I had along the way. My first event was the OLA Executive Board retreat in Silver Falls, which was a great experience that was made even better as the past-chair was at my side, keeping me apprised of procedure while providing valuable background on the topics at hand.

Working with the OLA Board has opened my eyes to the great things OLA does, and the group is composed of a wide range of librarians, every one of them friendly, helpful, and very devoted to the OLA mission. It has been a great pleasure getting to know them and working alongside them, and you will feel very welcome very quickly with this group.

This past year has seen some exciting changes for SSD. Scholarship awards for OLA membership and attendance at the annual SSD conference have been increased, and SSD membership is also going up. Videoconferencing has opened up involvement in SSD for people who otherwise couldn't participate due to distance. SSD is looking to expand training offerings across the state with book mending and technology workshops, while looking ahead at different training approaches (including increased exposure to the LSSC program) to help support staff increase services amidst shrinking budgets.

Time commitment:

  • Chair the monthly SSD board meetings, which can be attended in person or remotely via phone or videoconferencing (4 hours per month, depending upon travel)
  • Compose the monthly SSD board meeting agenda (1 hour per month)
  • Attend the monthly OLA Executive Board meetings (in person or remotely, 5 hours per month)
  • Attend the annual OLA Board retreat in Silver Falls in person (2 days per year)
  • Attend the annual SSD conference (1 day per year)
  • Liaise with OLA to assist members representing SSD at the OLA Conference (1 hour per month)
My term as SSD Board Chair has been extremely rewarding. The exposure to library staff from all corners of the state, and the friendships I've made, have been personally and professionally enriching. I would not hesitate to do it again, and strongly encourage those who are seeking more involvement in OLA/SSD to consider running for SSD Board Chair.  - Sean, SSD Board Chair

How to apply:

This is a nominated position, and you can definitely nominate yourself.  If you are interested, please contact us at or you can contact any one of our board members.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

OLA SSD 2012 Conference Registration Now Open

Registration is now open for the 18th annual OLA Support Staff Division Gateways Conference: Support Staff -- Changing Lives Every Day! The conference will take place in Eugene, Oregon on Friday, July 20th at the Valley River Inn.

We are offering several incentives to encourage staff to participate in this year's conference and include:
  • If your library/system registers 3 attendees, the 4th attendee conference registration is free.
  • If you are traveling more than 150 miles (one way), you may be eligible for a $50 travel assistance scholarship (one scholarship per vehicle).
  • Early bird special! Save $5 per registration. Early bird rates apply to registration before June 20.
Visit our conference website to view the full program, register for the conference, or apply for a scholarship.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

OLA SSD Conference Hotel

The 2012 OLA SSD conference hotel, Valley River Inn, is offering a discounted room rate for conference attendees. The discounted rate is $109 single and $119 double. Other room packages available at a discount. Use the link below to make reservations at the conference rate.

Valley River Inn Conference Reservations

Book early! Conference rate is available through June 13, 2012.

Although you will feel like you are miles away, Valley River Inn is a hotel conveniently located near downtown Eugene, Oregon, in the heart of the city. The Willamette River, Eugene's largest shopping mall, and miles of scenic bike paths are just outside the doors. Valley River Inn is concluding a renovation of its guestrooms, meeting space, public space and Sweetwaters Restaurant. Everything will be renovated by the beginning of June, in time for the conference.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Fix-it Friday (Repair Manual Edition) : "One On, Two Off" Hollow Tube Recase

Welcome back to Fix-It Friday!  Today's post presents an illustrated guide to recasing a hardcover book using a single piece of paper and some PVA.  This procedure may be old hat to some of you who are already repairing books in your collection, but it is so useful (and simple) that I hoped it'd be worth sharing again.

This repair reattaches a hardcover case to a text block without replacing the endsheets and super.  A strip of paper, folded thrice, is used to rejoin the text block and case at the spine without losing the important open "tube" along the spine.  "One on, two off" refers to the three sides of the folded paper -- in this version of the repair, one of the three folds will be glued onto the spine of the text block, while the other two will be off the text block and glued to the spine inlay of the case.

If it sounds complicated so far, fear not!  Let's look at what we're dealing with and gather the tools we'll need.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Announcing Our 2012 Conference!

Conference 2012 

Support Staff: Changing Lives Every Day!

Friday, July 20, 2012 | 7:00 am - 4:00 pm

Valley River Inn, Eugene, OR

Cost of attendance is $70 for OLA members and $85 for non-members.

We are pleased to announce that our keynote speaker this year is Brian Doyle, editor of Portland Magazine at the University of Portland and author of Mink River, his first novel and finalist for the 2012 Oregon Book Award for fiction. Bill Baars, Director of Lake Oswego Public Library, says
“Mink River is ‘northwest literature’ in a joyous, exuberant, Ken Keseyesque way, with an emphasis on uniquely Oregon characters, history, flora, fauna and rainfall.” 
Brian Doyle’s previous books have been finalists four times for the Oregon Book Award.

We are offering the following sessions at our 2012 conference:

  • Intermediate Book Repair for Libraries, an all-day workshop. Registration limited to first 8 participants.
  • Internal Customer Service – Support Staff Working Together 
  • Connecting with Youth – Oregon Libraries Care 
  • A Day in the Life – Support Staff in the Digital Age 
  • Coping with Change – Support Staff Striving for Excellence 
  • Beyond Books – Oregon Libraries Reaching Out 
  • Tek4U – Oregon Libraries and the eBook Explosion 
Conference attendees are provided with a buffet breakfast and choice of luncheon entrée.

Registration open soon!

Read more about complete session descriptions, and local information, including instructions for booking at the conference rate, and exciting financial aid news!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Congratulations, Rea!

At the Oregon Library Association conference last week, SSD member Rea Andrew received the Library Employee of the Year award.  Rea has served SSD in many ways, including as chair, and as chair of the Conference Committee.  She's currently SSD treasurer.  She's a major force in her job at Newberg Public Library.  The introductory comments by her co-workers emphasized her flexibility, adaptability; and ability to rise to any occasion; I'd never heard a plunger referred to in an OLA awards presentation before!  Rea received a standing ovation from the crowd.

It's great to see the contributions of support staff celebrated at the OLA conference.  OLA president Abigail Elder also lauded SSD in her opening remarks, saying how impressed she was by the SSD conference last summer, and by this blog, especially Fix It Fridays.

Huzzah, Rea, and huzzah, SSD, for continuing to serve and Oregon library community in so many ways!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Magical meat?

Grilled unicorn detail from a newly discovered
Medieval cookbook at the British Library.
In case you missed it, an article over at American Libraries has an April Fools roundup, with this year's best from libraries around the globe. 

I especially like the Really Advanced Search from google.  Technically not a library, but since it's google, it's only a matter of time, am I right?

Greg Landgraf, the articles author, says libraries and pranks have a strong tradition.  Did your library "celebrate" April Fools?  What is your library's best prank?

And since it's the season for Peeps, this really never gets old.


Friday, April 13, 2012

Fix-It Friday : Be Square

This month's Fix-It Friday book mending topic is short and sweet: some quick ways to get straight, square measurements without taking down a lot of numbers. 

First of all, it's useful to know how wide your regular metal ruler is, and to use a cutting mat that has grid lines printed on it.  You can use the width of the ruler as well as its length as a measuring tool, and the paper or stock you are cutting can be placed square on the grid on the cutting mat to ensure a straight cut.

A trick I learned recently was to install a jig onto the cutting mat that can be used to jog up paper and hold it true and straight while cutting or folding.  Such a jig can be made easily with a piece of thick, stiff board (here, a strip of Davey book cover board), attached with strips of double-backed tape.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The library of the future

Images courtesy Yi ARCHITECTS
This is the floor plan for the 8th floor of the new Stuttgart library designed by Yi ARCHITECTS.  It's been described as the Apple store of libraries.  It's very modern and very, very bright.

As a support staff person,  one thing I always want to see, and rarely do, is the work space and how it will be used.  On the above floor plan, the sorting area is denoted by #7.   There are other sorting areas on other floors, but they are pretty much the same size.  Is it just me or is that really tiny for the size of the library?  Take a look at the pictures and let me know if you can figure out where the rest of the work gets done.

What do you think of the library of the future?


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Leaving and returning books

More book art, this time from artist Alicia Martin.  You can see several more views and a video in this My Modern Met post.

Do you work in a library where you get returns? Late returns?  How do your late returns compare to the one received by Archbishop Marsh's Library in Dublin?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

For your reading pleasure

The latest issue of ASSOCIATES is out today.  What is ASSOCIATES? It's a worldwide Library Support Staff Journal in electronic form. Subscription is free and it always has interesting articles by support staff.  Check it out!

Photo: American Libraries
American Libraries’ annual review of the best in new and renovated library facilities is out in their Library Design Showcase 2012. Oregon State University Libraries, Valley Library in Corvallis is featured for their renovation of space on the main floor of the library in the "Collaborative Learning" section.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Fix-it Friday : Using Methyl Cellulose in Bookbinding and Book Repair

Welcome to Fix-It Friday -- a monthly series that proposes to bring you a bit of news you can use to help repair and conserve books!  This month, some information on a very useful bookbinding adhesive that can make book repair a kinder, gentler process for books and for you:  methyl cellulose.

Methyl cellulose is a chemical compound derived from cellulose.  When mixed with water, it can be used as a low-tack adhesive that is often added to PVA in bookbinding.  The addition of methyl cellulose to PVA slows the drying time of PVA without compromising its strength.

Application of straight methyl cellulose to previously glued materials can also help break down and loosen old adhesive.  It is used to clean old paper linings, adhesive, and super cloth from spines when preparing books for hollow tubes and rebacking.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

More library designs and donations

Check out these library designs - public and private.

Southern Oregon University library may get a great donation of early Oregon history.

More book sculptures (that aren't donations) that are simply amazing.

And I'm not sure how I missed this, there's an animated greeting from the anonymous sculptor who donated her book sculptures to libraries in Scotland:

A Book For Xmas from a book for xmas on Vimeo.

You can find the entire continuing story at

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Who here has moved a library?

renjith krishnan /
Today, we have a request from one of our readers, Susanne, who says:

I am the librarian at a k-8 gradeschool and am in the process of planning a move into a new space.

I would love to have ideas and tips from others who have done the same or are planning to do the same soon.

So, dear readers, what resources or information can you recommend?  How DO you move a library? Comment below and help Susanne with her move!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Kyle Wrappers - Wrap books without using fasteners!

We're so excited to introduce Carolee Harrison, Conservation Technician with Portland State University. She has taught the all-day Basic Book Repair for Libraries at several of our Support Staff Division Conferences. This is the first post in what we hope will be a continuing series.

The “Kyle Wrapper” is named for its inventor, conservator and book artist Hedi Kyle.  The design is similar to a phase box, with two pieces of thin board wrapped around the book perpendicular to one another, but here the inner wrapper tucks into the outer wrapper, and the container holds itself closed without the need of ties, magnets or Velcro.

You’ll need:

  • Two pieces of Bristol board or cover stock, long enough to wrap around the book horizontally and vertically
  • A ruler / straightedge
  • An x-acto knife or scalpel
  • A bone folder
  • A jig made of stiff board and/or a triangle
  • A little bit of PVA

What if everybody read the same article?

Today's guest post is from Susan Gilmont, who is a Library Technician with Guin Library at the Hatfield Marine Science Center. She writes about how she and her team are working together to re-imagine space use in the library -- and this could really apply to any type of change any group is working towards or facing. Be sure to check out her helpful list of resources at the end of her article!

Current Awareness Reading for Library Teams

Is your department facing changes in the year ahead? Would you like to give everyone in your unit a shared vocabulary as you move forward? Current awareness reading is a valuable technique that can help groups adapt to change and form a united perspective.

The Setting:
I work at the Guin Library, a small branch of the Oregon State University Libraries, located over 50 miles away from our main campus and main library. We have 2.75 FTE, including a librarian and two library technicians. Although we travel to our main campus several times a year, and we are able to attend library meetings by polycom, we are to some extent cut off from the rich learning environment of our main library.

The Issues:
The OSU Libraries are in the process of building a culture of assessment, in which we examine and attempt to quantify our efforts. Our staff needs to learn current thinking about assessment. We also need to develop assessment projects of our own to contribute to the Libraries’ efforts.

In addition, we are in the process of redesigning our library. The marine science center where we are based is short on space, and we have an abundance of space in the library. We want to re-envision space to the best advantage for library users. As part of this effort, we are studying how patrons use the library.

Our Process:
The Guin Library Team meets once a week. Each month, we agree on an article to read. Any team member can suggest reading material. We read one article each month. We use many sources to find articles, such as LITA recommended reading resources, discussion lists, or American Libraries Online. To help us think about the articles, our librarian gave us this template to use:

  1. Citation for article read
  2. Intended audience
  3. Methodology used
  4. Premise of article
  5. Findings
  6. Applications for this material / What can be shared?
  7. Other staff comments

    Our current awareness reading program has worked well for us. We’ve learned much more about assessment, and one of the articles (Hoivik) gave us the method we used for a recent study of space use. We’ve enhanced our understanding of how technology is changing library use. Better still, we have an incentive to be on the lookout for good articles for the group to read, an incentive to be active learners. Whether you are trying to help someone stubbornly resisting change, or to inspire and re-invigorate your staff, a current awareness reading program might be just the thing for your group.

    For those who might be interested, here are some of the articles we have read:

    Wednesday, February 1, 2012

    Interesting Library Tidbits

    The New York Public Library has digitized stereogram images in their collection, and artist Joshua Heineman began animating them. Read the New York Times article.

    More break-ins at the the library!

    Wednesday, January 25, 2012

    Monday, January 23, 2012

    Talking up LSSC...

    Today, Sylvia Bowers continues talking about balancing work, life, and classwork while completing LSSC - Library Support Staff Certification.

    What help do you wish you had while taking these courses (like group support)?

    It may be that I wish I had more group support, but it seems that this is something I am more willing to provide for others than seek for myself. The number of people enrolled in the LSSC program is fairly small right now, so I’m not sure it’s easy to find other participants outside of classes. Classes typically have a discussion board so that the students can interact with each other and share ideas and questions. But, since I’ve started doing the support staff certification, I have been able to share information about the program with my co-workers, I have given two presentations about it at conventions to encourage others and I’ve written about it. I do this sharing willingly and humbly, because it is meeting such a need in my life. I project I have twenty or so more working years ahead of me and I have decided this is a worthwhile investment for me.

    Are any of you in the LSSC program? Let us know how it's going!