Monday, June 28, 2010

Defining Paraprofessional

At the last Paraprofessional Section board meeting, we discussed the definition of "paraprofessional." It means a lot of different things to different groups, and it is used within many fields. We decided it might be useful to define "paraprofessional" within the context of our organization.

Here is the relevant excerpt from the minutes of the Para board's June 18 meeting:

In our discussion we suggested that paraprofessionals, as members of our section, are people who are dedicated to their library, with or without library degrees, in all types of libraries. Our section is where a cross section of library workers can come together, not limited to one specific library type such as public libraries.

It seems as though we overlap with most other sections. We have members from academic, public, and special libraries. We do public services and technical services. Some members of the Para section have an MLS or MLIS, others do not. But even with all of these diverse backgrounds, Paras are people who see their future in libraries.

What do you think? Does this resonate with you? Do you have a totally different impression of what it means to be a Para? Tell us in the comments.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Strategic Planning Responses

Here is a compilation of all the responses we've received, both on and off the blog, to the Para Strategic Planning questionnaire. Thanks to all who submitted input. Additional comments are still welcome.

1. Review the existing Paraprofessional Section Mission and Objectives. What do you think of those statements? Are we on the right track? Do we need to shift direction? What should our mission and objectives be?

• This objective doesn't seem appropriate for our group now-adays with the development of so many job sites - maybe it should go by the wayside "To encourage the advertisement of paraprofessional employment opportunities."
• I got my first library job not from a job site but through a library students' listserve. Many library jobs never make it onto the ordinary jobsearch sites. I definitely think promoting employment opportunities is still relevant, but maybe we should expand it to encompass more jobsearch channels...Sorry this is vague, I'll try to think of a better formulation.
• As I was looking at the mission statement and the objectives, it occurred to me that "paraprofessional" in the library setting is not very well defined. I am sure there are employees of libraries at all levels who are new, but are unaware that there is an organization at the state level just for them. Getting that information distributed through to them via whoever does the hiring/interviewing might be a possibility. In our case that would be through the directors.
• Also giving that group of people the opportunity to join our section and encouraging them to go to NLA convention or other workshops & meetings should be supported by whatever entity they are employed by.

2. Complete the following sentence: The Paras could improve by . . .

• lobbying more for the chance to obtain a degree of some type that would give us the background for many of the jobs we are responsible for in each of our settings.

3. One thing I love about the Para Section is . . .

• They do SO MUCH, and I like telling other librarians I'm a part of that group.
• This section's members are from all kinds of library settings so you really get to know about several aspects of librarianship. We all perform important functions in our libraries.
• we are a strong force in each of our workplaces. In some instances we are the backbone of service to the public.

4. I joined the Paras because . . .

• I'd have to say the members of this group were the first to talk to me about NLA and the people I work the most with are members of this group so it seemed a good fit.
• I wanted to see what it's about. I know there are a lot of knowledgable people involved and thought I could learn so much.
• A friend told me this section would be a great fit for me and section meetings were always informative and fun. She was right!!
• I wanted to be part of a professional group in the library community.

5. The Paras ought to try . . .

• encourage directors to give us the opportunities to go to workshops, etc to refine our skills.

6. I benefit from membership in the Para Section because . . .

• I benefit from membership in the Para Section because it helps me to connect with others in the library field who don't necessarily have a degree in library science.

7. The Paras are too . . .

[No response.]

8. My vision for the Paraprofessional Section in five years is . . .

• I'd like to section to have move members, and for all of NLA to understand that the Para section is for ANYONE working in a Library not just what Librarians call "Paraprofessionals". Maybe even a Para as President of NLA :-)
• that our group grows in numbers--there HAVE to be more of us than there are directors. After all, most libraries have one director, but they have (usually) a number of part-time staff who could become part of our group.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Para in the News

Everyone, let's offer a hearty congratulations to Para Section member Karla Shafer, who was in the news this week. If you attended the Para Section spring meeting back in 2008, you may remember Karla's presentation on "Holding It All Together." Yep, it's that Karla, and she's still going strong.

Karla, the director (as well as the entire staff) of the Hooper Public Library, has been awarded a grant to continue and expand her English literacy program for Hispanic immigrants. Karla provides an inspiring example of serving the community beyond the library walls.

For details, see the Omaha World-Herald article, "Small-town library with a big heart."

Way to go, Karla!