Inspired Doing: Canadian Support Staff Day 2014

People ask me what I do. I reply, “I work as a library technician at a college.” They respond, “But I thought everyone working in a library is a librarian.”  I patiently explain it’s not the case. We have clerks, those with on-the-job experience, I have a diploma in Library and Information Sciences from Red River College as a library technician, while others take the plunge and go for their Masters In Library Science, or some other named degree, so long as it’s ALA accredited.

Yes, I have mulled over getting my master’s degree.

After considering time and money, I discovered one important ingredient in going back. It’s inclination. I enjoy what I do at this moment to get up, uproot everything, and go back to school. I have a job doing the daily interactions with staff and students. I also do collection development, and I do one-on-one instruction on how to search library resources. From time to time, I take that knowledge into a classroom as per an instructor request.

Library Technicians in schools do story time, pull resources for teachers, and usually are the only game in town as school librarians dwindle. Others do cataloguing if no central department does it for them. They process, do the scholastic book fairs hoping to raise enough money for books other students can’t buy. The students they know need a library the most.

Some Library Technicians, cracking good ones, do dazzling PowerPoints and brochures to entice users to come through the doors. Others sit on committees depending on the workplace. Librarians look at library technicians and clerks as their right arm. In other case hands, legs, feet, and one half of a brain hemisphere. The really smart librarians, like the really smart clerks and technicians, know some initiatives do not hinge on one person. Some people, scared by experience or just plain insecure, see division everywhere between librarians and support staff. The ones who don’t are too busy helping people, advocating, and working shoulder to shoulder. The stakes at this time are simply too high.

Also, our users really don’t care.

They want to feel comfortable with the person helping them. They want to find their book, their article, or how to download an e-book. What piece of paper a person has is the least of their worries. They quality of the help speaks louder than a credential. I plead with library technicians and clerks. Please do not put ‘just’ in front of what you do. To a landed immigrant, a mature student out of school since libraries had card catalogues, to the child wanting to read The Hobbit on his/her own; what you do out grows that word.

Today raise your glass, eat a special cupcake, buy a round, do anything. Celebrate what you do. Have a great support staff day. Keep inspired.

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