5th Annual Library Assistants’ Day

5th Annual Library Assistants’ Day

Syracuse, NY

On October 25, 2011, Donna Hanna, Tim Finnigan and I travelled to Syracuse, NY for the 5th Annual Library Assistants’ Day.  This event began in 2007 and was co-sponsored by CLRC and Nylink.  This year’s event was hosted by CLRC, SCRLC, RRLC and WNYLC.

The day began with “Keynote Presentation on Social Media” by Anthony Rotolo, Assistant Professor of Practice and Social Media Strategist at Syracuse University.  Professor Rotolo addressed the group on the fact that social media has been with us for a long time in more of a “gate keeper” format and went on to explain how the current, less restricted Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and YouTube are affecting our lives.  He showed a picture of one of his classes, where everyone had a laptop open, and stated that Twitter is live on the screen during class. He finds he has much more class interaction by using this format.  Professor Rotolo’s presentation was extremely engaging and I found it interesting that he also has a class on Star Trek at Syracuse University!

After a short break, Nora Hardy, South Central Regional Library Council (SCRLC) presented “e-Books and e-Readers Panel Discussion” with input from Caitlyn Lam, Yale University; Heather Urtz, Mid-York Library System; and Charles O’Bryan, Delaware-Chenango-Madison-Otsego BOCES.

Ms. Hardy described what an e-Book and an e-Reader are and how rapidly the technology is changing.  She discussed on content sources, formats, and the devices.  Some of the considerations a library must make are whether to buy or lease a title, can it be lent, how many times and how many simultaneous users can it support.  Ms. Hardy also described some of the options available on an e-reader and suggested sites to research to select the best options for you or your library.

As a Staff Supervisor at the Service Desk in Milne Library, I was especially interested in attending Ben Hogben’s workshop “Supervising Students and Volunteers.”  Mr. Hogben is the Manager of Access Services at Ithaca College.  Not only did he impart a great deal of knowledge but delivered it with a sense of humor that kept us all engrossed and involved.

Mr. Hogben began with the Hiring/Recruiting process including identifying the skills needed, the learning outcomes for the applicant, what career building skills they would acquire in our employment, advertising the position and interviewing techniques to gain the information needed to hire the appropriate applicant.

The second topic covered was Training.  Mr. Hogben quoted a Chinese Proverb, “Tell me, I’ll forget…Show me, I’ll remember…Involve me, I’ll understand.”  He discussed learning styles, being clear on what you want, accessible training guides, methods of communication and evaluating performance.

Mr. Hogben then moved on to Retention and stressed three premises that organizations are built on; communication, respect and trust.  He impressed upon us the importance of personally thanking and congratulating employees who do a good job to re-enforce a positive attitude.  On the reverse, he discussed the need for a Disciplinary/Termination Policy.  There should be documented information that is given to the employee when they are hired so that they know exactly what will not be tolerated in your workplace and how the organization proceeds if one of the policies is violated.  Mr. Hogben states that discipline should always be handled in a non-personal manner.

As a follow-up Mr. Hogben recommended that we become “coaches” for our student employees and suggested reading material.  He also supplied us with other resources for supervising students and volunteers.  Last but not least, he stated the importance of having Emergency Procedures available online AND a hard copy in the department as emergencies don’t just happen on the day shift!

My final event of the day was “Local History:  Folklife in a Public Library” by Todd DeGarmo, Founding Director of the Crandall Public Library Folklife Center, Glens Falls, NY.  The Folklife Center manages the Special Collections and Archives of the library by researching and presenting the cultural traditions of their area.  Mr. DeGarmo described his background and how he began the Center and how he and his staff continue to fund it.  He stated that we are all “folk” and have our stories, our crafts, our beliefs, and our music passed down for generations and occurring now.  He suggested ways of promoting a library’s collections to be an on-going part of life in our own region.

As in the past, this event was an excellent learning experience and we came home with numerous ideas to share with the Milne Library Staff.

Coleen Hopkins

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