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!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Conference Committee: Don't Miss the Call

The conference committee for 2017 is already starting to form and make decisions. The next ten months, we'll be meeting every few weeks, brainstorming, talking to people, and getting everything ready for another great July. There's lots to be done.

There's also space for you on the team! If you're looking to get your feet wet in a state-wide organization, the conference committee is a great place to do it. The time commitment is low and flexible overall, and we can use a wide variety of skills. If you're technically inclined, we can use you. Good with people? Gotcha. Passionate about advocacy for public or academic library support staffers? Your voice is essential to making it happen. Don't waste it!

We're all busy, and we don't all have the time to jump straight in to being on the SSD Board. The conference committee is a fun way to ease your way into that role and learn how to structure the daily work at your job to allow for leadership in the greater library community. 

Send an email to if you're interested in joining us or for more information. We look forward to making the OLA SSD 2017 conference happen!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Presentations from the conference now available

Did you attend our conference this year, but can't quite recall all the details of your sessions? Did you have to pick between two sessions that both looked interesting, and now you want to see what you missed? After some technical hiccups, all the presentations from the conference are now up and available for you on Northwest Central!

If you'd like to see them, follow this link  and click through to whichever presentation suits you (including the keynote speech from Eva Calcagno).

If you have any questions or comments about the presentations, we'd love to hear from you. Hope you enjoyed your Labor Day!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

August OLA SSD Board meeting - Open to all

Curious about the board, what we do, and how it all works? Got some great ideas to pitch? Come join our quarterly meeting this Friday! This time, we'll be recapping the OLA Board retreat and the recent conference, among other things.

The meeting will be hosted in person at Eugene Public Library. If you find yourself unable to attend in person, we can set you up to attend remotely. Convenient, eh?

For instructions on attending remotely or to get any questions answered, please contact the Chair at We're looking forward to meeting you!

Friday, August 5, 2016

The OLA SSD Board and why YOU should join

We've been pretty focused on the annual OLA SSD Conference lately, as I'm sure you've noticed. With all the planning, prepping, and organizing it takes to make an event like that happen, it's easy to get laser-focused on it. And what an event! The 2016 conference had record attendence (by a very wide margin), a new format, and plenty of other new and positive changes that we hope added value to it for you. I know I had a great time and learned lots!

But that's not all OLA SSD does, and we're always pushing to do more. The Conference Committee is one sub-group of a larger SSD organization, and SSD has room for YOUR skills, whatever they may be! We have a number of vacancies to fill on the SSD board if you're interested in an official position, including:

  • Chair of the OLA SSD Board
  • Continuing Education Committee Chair
  • Continuing Education Committee Member
  • Conference Committee Member
  • Outreach Team Member
  • OLA SSD Webmaster
  • Board Member-At-Large
  • a number of other positions that will probably open up soon!

Not to mention opportunities to write a guest post here on the blog, offer suggestions for next year's conference, set up a local meet-up between SSD members, and more. We need you!

"So what's in it for me?" you might ask. That's the best part! Not only do you get a chance to work with other people in your field (we're a pretty cool group, if I do say so myself), you'll be beefing up your résumé, expanding your skill set, getting leadership experience, networking like crazy, and doing your part to help out support staffers across the state. If you have time for a meeting every few months and a few minutes a week for some extra work, this really is a golden opportunity. 

If this sounds good to you, send us an email! will reach us directly and we can discuss details and answer any questions you may have. We are excited to meet you!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Thank You!

If you attended the OLA SSD conference this year, we want to extend you a huge thank you! We blew the roof off of our previous attendance record (170 people this year!) and received tons of feedback. You all rock!

If you weren't able to fill out a paper evaluation the day of the conference, we created an online form so that you can get your thoughts to us quickly and easily. Click here to find our online evaluation form.

We'll be posting photos from the conference on facebook and here soon, so keep an eye out for your coworkers and colleagues. We are so happy to have prepped and organized this event, and we're looking forward to OLA SSD 2017.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Last chance to register for the 2016 SSD Conference!

The 2016 OLA SSD Conference is next week! Seven days! We are so excited to see everyone and to hear from our lovely presenters and panelists. But registration is ending this Sunday, July 10th, so this weekend is your absolute last chance to register. 

Click here to register for three of our great sessions or panels. See you next on Friday!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Two weeks to go!

It seems like yesterday we were announcing this year's conference for the first time, but here we are two weeks away! If you plan on attending but haven't yet signed up, why not get your conference registration squared away before you head home for the holiday? Find the link to register by clicking here.

Here's hoping this will be a fun, safe, and relaxing three day weekend!

Friday, June 10, 2016

Conference Session Highlight: Ergonomics in the Library

If you're like most support staffers, you've noticed some aches and pains after a long day at work. Whether you're stuck behind a desk all day staring at a computer or on your feet running from shelf to shelf for hours, you can learn how to prevent pain and chronic injury (not to mention stay more comfortable!) at our Ergonomics in the Library session.

Victoria Eaton, OTD, OTR/L and her fabulous team of graduate student professionals Kaitlyn Blair, OTS; Kelsey Sandage, OTS; Amy Van Goey, OTS are going to be sharing some of their extensive knowledge with us about ergonomics, and you won't want to miss it. If you are looking for an interesting, informative session that will have concrete benefits for your day-to-day work, look no further!

Register for this session (and two others of your choice) here. Let's get those bodies into alignment!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Don't wait!

Just a quick reminder for everyone interested in the conference: you must register by June 10th to get our early bird price! More details can be found on our registration page if you have questions, and you can always feel free to email us at

Monday, June 6, 2016

Conference Session Highlight: Supportlandia

The big conference is coming up fast, and the registration numbers we're getting are great to see. If this keeps up we will definitely beat our attendance record!

As you've seen if you're a blog follower, we've got a whole bunch of great sessions this year. We'll be periodically highlighting some of the new sessions and panels we have planned, starting with something completely new: Supportlandia, our networking session!

We've gotten feedback from previous conference attendees who were hoping there would be a little more opportunity for networking at the 2016 conference, and we decided to make it happen. Supportlandia will be a gently guided networking session led by Jane Corry designed to help you meet people across the state in our profession, make connections, and maybe make a few friends too. Whether you've never been great at the whole networking thing or you're looking for an opportunity to use the skills you already have, this is the session for you.

Spots are filling up fast, so register today by clicking hereBonus: if you register before June 10th you'll get the early bird discount!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

And Basic Book Repair for Libraries is... Filled!

Thanks to all of you who have already registered for the 2016 OLA SSD Conference in Wilsonville, "Coming to a Crossroads: Intersecting Roles in Library Service and Community"! If you can believe it, the Basic Book Repair for Libraries workshop has already filled up and we've started a waitlist.

Just a reminder to those who haven't heard, there's a discount for early registration. Head to our registration page by June 10th to snag our Early Bird discount off the already-reasonable fee. Check here for more information on the conference particulars as well as what other fantastic sessions await you on July 17th!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Little Free Libraries: A Public Good... Right?

The first Little Free Library, built by  Todd Bol

These days, if you look around the neighborhoods in most cities, you're bound to run across something odd: what looks like an over-sized mailbox full of books with a sign telling you something like "take one, leave one." These so-called "Little Free Libraries" are popping up everywhere, and from their humble roots they are becoming something of a movement. Where did these cute little boxes come from?

The history, as it turns out, is an interesting one. In 2009, a man named Todd Bol built the first LFL in the shape of a small school house. His original intent had been to honor his mother's memory (she loved books and reading), but the idea quickly spread throughout the country and eventually the world. These days LFLs have their own website where interested library lovers can purchase/register their own version, and there are now over 15,000 of them worldwide.

Despite their seemingly innocuous appearance, Little Free Libraries were not without their share of controversy. In a few spots around the country, LFLs have led to citations and "Cease and Desist" letters due to laws that (we assume) simply weren't written with community book-donation in mind. Nowadays, these laws seem to be changing to allow LFLs their spot in the community network, so they appear to be here to stay.

What do you think? Are these unregulated boxes a community resource, or an unecessary eyesore? Would you love to see a box on every corner, or are our roles as library support staff an important part of the book-sharing process? Feel free to leave a comment below if you're passionate about this phenomenon!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Registration Now Open

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You’ve heard about it, now it’s time to sign up! Registration is now open for the OLA Support Staff Division Conference “Coming to a Crossroads: Intersecting Roles in Library Service and Community.” Follow this link to register. Remember, if you sign up soon you can take advantage of our early-bird discount! Once you're registered, RSVP for the Facebook event and see who else will be there.

For more information about what's in store for you at this year’s conference, the location, or anything else, check out the 2016 Conference tab up at the top of the blog or click right here.

If you have any trouble registering or have any questions at all about the conference, email us at or call our Conference Committee chairs Justyne Triest or Jennifer Patterson at (503) 352-1426 and (503) 691-3074 respectively.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Presenting... the Presenters!

With the OLA conference happening in Bend this week, we all have conferences on the brain. If this is your first visit to our blog, you might not know that SSD's own annual conference is coming up fast as well! If you're curious what's in store for you there, we have finalized our sessions and the wonderful people who will be leading them. Check it out:

Presenters graphic.jpg-large

Registration will be open in early May, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled for announcements. If you're fast, you can take advantage of our early-bird discount. More information about the conference can be found here.

Thanks for following the Supportability blog! If you’re interested in seeing more great content related to the support staffer role, we’re also on Facebook and Twitter. And speaking of Twitter, if you’re attending our conference this year in Wilsonville, use the hashtag #OLA_SSD16 to join the conversation. We're excited to see you there!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Are you going to be in Bend this week?

We are!  This week, SSD is at the OLA Conference in Bend, Oregon.  We have happenings on Thursday, check 'em out below!