This week I’m writing while on the scene of the Oregon Library Association Support Staff Division Conference in Clackamas. I just finished sharing Roseburg Public Library’s story with retired City Manager Lance Colley and City Councilor and Library Commission Chair Brian Prawitz. Although the primary purpose of attending this conference was to present, I seek these types of professional development opportunities to network and learn, and inevitably I leave energized to continue the work of running a public library.
The Support Staff Division includes people from all types of libraries who often serve in library assistant or aide roles. They may work at the front desk, issuing cards and checking out materials. They may work behind the scenes, processing books so they’re ready for the shelves. They may work in the children’s room or help with the logistics of programming.
In a nutshell, they are vital components of a highly functioning library.
I’m thrilled that Roseburg Public Library just hired four library aides to provide permanent, part-time customer service support. Each staffer works two five-hour shifts each week, and they staff the front desk and children’s room.
These additions allow us to more effectively manage all types of patron needs, from printing at our public computers to downloading digital materials to locating books in our physical collection.
We really hit the jackpot with this crew. Not only do these folks have a passion for public service, they bring significant skills and expertise. One is fluent in Spanish. One has experience cataloging library materials. One has spent much of her professional career in libraries. And one has social media and technology savvy. Together they make us a more well-rounded team.
That team includes our amazing volunteers, and we will continue to rely on them because we simply could not do what we do without them. However, adding library aides will ensure we have dedicated staffing on Saturdays, and they will be assigned additional responsibilities such as opening and closing the facility as well as navigating more complex patron questions.
That brings me back to today’s conference. Lance said it best when he told our audience that it was hard work to open Roseburg Public Library and we’re incredibly proud of this amazing accomplishment, but it’s the people who work in the library who truly make it what it is. I couldn’t ask to lead a better group in our opening chapters, and I can’t wait to see how our library story continues to unfold.