Though the actual percentages are difficult to ascertain, for a number of reasons, few of us would deny that there are an increasing number of paraprofessionals or support staff working in libraries. For more than a decade, I was one of them. Though I am proud of the MLIS I now hold, having finally decided to make it official, I am equally proud of the work I did for libraries even when I wasn’t a fully-fledged “librarian.”
After all, there’s no teacher like experience.
However, support staff can often feel unsupported in their workplaces. There can be limited advancement opportunities, issues with morale and respect, and paraprofessionals often find it difficult to identify any sort of continuing education (CE) opportunities that apply to them, while simultaneously facing issues with management who may not understand the value of CE for support staff.
Few of these issues are new, however, there may be more resources for paraprofessionals available than there were the last time you looked. For instance, it is only in recent history that the ALA began supporting the official certification of library support staff through the LSSC. There are others you may have overlooked. I was unaware that there has been a journal for library paraprofessionals published online since 1994.
There also may be more training available to you than you are aware of. The Ohio Library Support Staff Institute just wrapped up for 2016, but there are many other CE and training opportunities available to you, including most of the programs SWON provides.
Our Staff Training Symposium, formerly the Support Staff Training Symposium, is held twice a year and although we wanted to expand the programming opportunities to include all library staff, the bulk of what we provide is still excellent training opportunities for frontline staff.
Our bi-annual Summer Reading Programming workshops are for any and all staff who might be providing summer reading programs for children. Some of that staff may be librarians and many are not. All can benefit from these sessions full of excellent programming ideas and advice.
Meanwhile, our regularly scheduled events such as Level-up Labs, webinars, and other training opportunities are here for you, no matter what your official title is. After all, patrons don’t care what you are called: They expect quality, competent service from whoever is serving their needs at the library.
We hope to see staff of all kinds this fall where we will discuss the many ways #Libraries Transform. And we hope that #SWONSupports your needs, whether you call yourself Support Staff, a paraprofessional, or just “someone who works at the library.” We are here for you.