Friday, December 8, 2017

Hello Library Support Staff community!

 I hope your winter is going well.  SSD is looking for enthusiastic, creative people who want to get involved with their peers from around the state.  We have the following positions open on the Executive Board:

Conference Chair/Committee
Blog Manager
Website manager

Please visit the OLA-SSD website here and you'll find information on SSD and the different positions listed above.

If interested, please contact me here.
Thank you,
Margaret Harmon-Myers
Chair of the Support Staff Division of the Oregon Library Association.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Get Involved with SSD Conference Planning!

We hope you had a great time at the OLA SSD conference last month! If you've enjoyed attending, you might enjoy being on the conference committee as well. If yes, email to sign up, or with your questions. If you're not sure, read on!

The graphic below has roles that have been part of the committee in the past few years, and a few of the responsibilities for each. This can be somewhat fluid, and we want you to be able to make SSD your own. If you're considering being involved, but want to know more, here's some FAQs based on the last few years. If you still have questions just email and you can chat with a conference committee member.

How much of a time commitment is it?

- The last couple years we've had co-chairs and that's helped to balance responsibilities. The schedule has been a remote/virtual meeting once a month or so, for approximately an hour. Conference planning starts ~Sept. and really ramps up mid-May- July. For committee members, maybe an hour a week from roughly Feb-June, and a couple hours a week later June/July, on average. For chair(s), a little more than that.

What benefits are there?

-Helping to plan a conference for your peers, and helping to shape the theme, speakers, vendors, etc. Also, this looks fantastic on a resume/for professional development. You can hone or learn skills like time management, leadership, communication, marketing, promotion, negotiation, design, photography, decorating, and more. There's a lot of flexibility. Also, it's fun! The few years we've had a mix of public and academic library staff involved and it's a great way to meet people you wouldn't normally, network, and help each other build skills.

I want to, but I'm not sure how to check with my supervisor:

-We have a great blog post/interview with a supervisor of an SSD Board member here that will give you some tips.

How do I start/learn more?

-Email This is an email monitored by the 2017 conference committee, and we're happy to answer questions or provide you with specifics. If you'd like to schedule a phone/Skype/Google etc. hangout (or an in-person!) one with a 2017 committee member to ask us questions, email and we can see about setting something up!

This post was also shared on our Facebook. Like us for current SSD news and events!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Conference Thank You and Presentations

A huge thank you to everyone who attended, presented at, or helped with OLA SSD 2017! We couldn't have done it without you! If you'd like to see pictures, check them out on Facebook (no login or likes needed- but you might want to to keep up on SSD news!)

We're working with our friends at NW Central to get the presentations on their site, but since we've had lots of interest, we have them uploaded in a (much less pretty!) way to get them to you ASAP. You can find all the presentations from presenters who had visual aids here. If you have any issues accessing them or any questions just contact us at .

Monday, July 17, 2017

Important Day of Info for SSD 2017!

Thanks to everyone who registered for OLA SSD 2017! We're looking forward to seeing you Friday July 28th at University of Oregon in beautiful Eugene. Starting Tuesday 7/18, we'll be sending an email with crucial parking and lodging info for the venue- please check your email (and your spam!) and if you don't see that end of the day Wednesday 7/20 please contact

We also have the EMU (conference location at U of O) map and schedule posted below- previews of our fabulous programs (just wait until you see them in person!)

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

OLA SSD 2017 Conference Schedule

We're looking forward to seeing you all at OLA SSD 2017! Registration is open until July 14.

Here's the complete schedule for the day- fantastic presenters, great food, a chance to see colleagues from all over the state/Northwest- what more could you ask for?

As always, if you have any questions please contact us at

OLA SSD 2017
Friday July 28th

University of Oregon

8am-9:15am Registration and breakfast:

Breakfast Buffet:
Choice of two griddle Items, served with farm-fresh scrambled eggs, crisp pepper bacon, fresh fruit, coffee, and hot tea.

-Choice of poppy seed brioche French toast with strawberry compote and warm maple syrup.
-Choice of ricotta cheese blintz with berry compote.
-Choice of Belgian waffles with butter, warm maple syrup, berry compote, whipped cream.

9:15 Keynote Speaker Evan Dumas - “"How Not to Burn Out" or "Whoops, too late, now what?"”
Evan Dumas will be taking a humorous look at the serious issue of burnout in the workplace. We'll see how failing-to-thrive is a natural part of the thriving process, it just doesn't get as much press. By normalizing the challenges of goal-setting and self-care we will all realize that no one's perfect at thriving and that's ok, and if there are perfect people they can kindly keep quiet while the rest of us figure this out.

10:30 - 11:45 Breakout Session #1
--Presentation- Responding to and Assisting People with Unique Needs - Presented by Elise Thompson - Our libraries serve not only as centers for information and learning, but as safe harbors for some of our neighbors who are either uncomfortable--or sometimes feel unwelcome--in stores, coffee shops, or other retail venues where folks may be expected to spend money... then leave. At the library, everyone is welcome to enter and stay as long as the doors are open, and there is no admission charge. That means that the library staff see the entire unique and wonderful range of humanity at the library, and that can present some interesting challenges to staff concerning how to keep that shared space as comfortable and welcoming as possible for all who use it. This presentation is intended to provide you with some “boots on the ground” ideas about how to engage effectively, professionally--and compassionately--with all of your patrons and their unique needs.

--Panel/Interactive- Make the Most of Your Day: Scheduling the Easy Way! - Presented by Jessica Rondema, Jennifer Patterson, and Bryan Lee Feyerherm - 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.

11:45am-1:15pm Lunch & SSD announcements:

Lunch Buffet: Burrito Bar

Build your own burrito with chipotle chicken, organic pinto beans, Spanish rice, lettuce, cheddar cheese, olives and jalapeños, flour and corn tortillas, tortilla chips, and house-prepared salsa.

1:15 - 2:30 Breakout Session #2
--Presentation- Misinformation and Political Propaganda - Presented by Donna Cohen - We are overwhelmed with messages from politicians, news sources, and other media. Learn about critical thinking strategies through real world examples of political ads, news headlines, graph/charts, the effect of word choice in messaging, statistical data and other types of information. This session will hopefully help us all navigate the new politics and media landscape.

--Panel/Interactive- Three Perspectives on Accessibility: Bring your Challenges! - Presented by Elke Bruton, Wendy Beck, and Bryce Kozla - Accessibility is an important consideration for any library who cares about the communities they serve. Bring your questions about accessibility (and your great ideas) to this panel.

2:30pm-2:45pm Break & afternoon snack:

Snack: Matinee
Flavored popcorn: classic, chocolate, and herb Parmesan. House-baked cookies, assorted sodas

2:45 - 4:00 Breakout Session #3
--Presentation- How well are you adapting to change? - Presented by Tracey Letmate. Change is a constant in our libraries. How well are you prepared to cope with the changes happening around you? In this session you will learn about creating a healthy work culture and better understand how to build resilience and practice self-management during change.

--Panel/Interactive- Serving Vulnerable Populations - Panelists include Kate Schwab, Crystal Grimes/Kate Anderson. This panel will focus on patrons experiencing homelessness. They have unique needs and barriers to library service that most of us don't realize. Kate S will share information to increase participants understanding of homelessness and practical tips to extend service to people who need libraries despite their housing status. Crystal and Kate A will take you on a tour of what happens on a daily basis of a book in the Talking Book Library. They will discuss circulation, delivery, and the return process of these Talking Books. They will also touch on the equipment and accessories that their patrons use to read these books. Attendees- please your questions and comments for a guided discussion!

--Presentation- Day in the Life - Presented Rachel Kenny, Sami Kerzel, Jennifer Bosvert. Join several of your fellow support staffers as they run you through a day of their challenges, wins, and clever workarounds. Presenters’ days include digitization, preservation, and cataloging projects for the State Library, working in small academic branch libraries, and more!

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!