Tuesday, March 17, 2009

COLT - Is It Too Late? Can We Offer Assistance?

I feel very odd about writing this. I've earned my certificate but I am unable to find a paraprofessional job that would provide for my living and continued educational expenses. In my day job I use some of my skills. My writing and other activities also draw upon all what I have learned in the program.

I haven't worked in a actual library in many years. I'd love too but no one could have predicted this financial insanity that is before us. I have kept the Counsel of Library Technicians Listserv active to keep an eye out for positions and to find out what folks are talking about in the profession.

Let me cut to the chase; there will not be a professional association if library workers, clerks and paraprofessionals and interested others don't step up and lend a hand. I think there are a number of things that could help the situation. But I am not a member.

It might not be appropriate for me to stick my two cents in but sometimes an outside perspective can help. I don't have magic up my sleeve. This is my opinion, not the LT program, the library or anyone associated with PCC.

This is a extract from a post:

It's great that you've been a member for over 10 years, but I must comment that this is the first time I've seen a posting from you. So - if the end result of the unwanted posting is to get people commenting, I find that a good thing.

The COLT web site is still active, but I just tried it also and couldn't connect. Possibly where it's being housed is down. The COLT Board will look into it. (It seems to be ok now.) I'm going to take this opportunity as a last communication before our July Board meeting to state COLT's needs.
Basically, we need a Board -
a.. Vice/President/ President
b.. Secretary
c.. Treasurer
d.. Members' Registrar
e.. & 5 Regional Directors
The current Board has stayed on for an extra year trying to work on things. We've asked for input from the membership and have received NOTHING. Tricia, that's was annoys me - the continual silence we've received. I can tell by your response that not hearing anything didn't sit well with you either. Yes - we've received messages about how it would be a shame for COLT to end, but it cannot keep going without members getting involved.

The current Board recognizes that for COLT to be viable, changes to its mission and way of doing things need restructuring. We need members who will take on the challenge. COLT will be holding a Board meeting in Chicago on July 10. ALA hasn't assigned our room yet, but when they do, we will post it to the list. This meeting is open to all. If you are going to be in Chicago, please attend and give us your ideas, your minds, your bodies!!! Keep posting to the list,

Jackie Lakatos
COLT Past President
Members' Registrar
I know how hard it is to find resources pertaining to library paraprofessionals and library workers. It is an old/new concept. From Pages, to Clerks to ??? who are we and what is our identity?

Many of us would like to be full time librarians but some of us would be happy pushing carts and sniffing book dust. What if we would like to just help out? Is there a place for us at COLT?

When I look at the listserve it is mainly job listings. I don't get a sense of community. Every once in a while a question will pop up or an announcement of interest but I don't know the members of COLT or have the same sense of community like I can get from the INFOLIT or FARLTR listservs. Those folks ask questions, pass on information and have wonderful discussions.

The community, not the technology sets that kind of engagement. Where is the Southern California library paraprofessional community? The national or international community? Outside of our LT program I don't know.

I do know about burnout. You can't keep asking the same people to pull the wagon and do the work without support. I've had that experience and it is not fun. Obligation will only take you so far.

What Can Be Done About It?

Yeah, I'd thought that might come up as a question. Well I'm going to take a risk here. I am going to ask a question on Twitter and some of the other social networking sites to see if there would be an interest in keeping COLT or being a part of it. I'm going to ask if there is or isn't a value could they drop a comment in the comments.

Not sure that I will get any responses. But if there are I'd like to know what they would want from an organization, what do they expect and what could the contribute? Not necessarily money.

I know one thing I'd change is the look of that COLT web site. No disrespect intended but it is so 1997 -ish. I bet it is hard to change information and have folks contribute if they don't know HTML. There are probably other constrictions as well.

I am bias, I think a monitored blog format works well for groups and it allows for updates when needed and not when the IT person can find the time to do them. A well designed web site could allow for easy uploading and changing of information as well.

Anyway, we'll see what does and does not happen. I certainly will pass on any comments to the organization. Feel free to put in your ideas as well.


Anonymous said...

I still have no idea what COLT is.

Gena said...

Well, it is an organization that is geared toward people who work in libraries but are not librarians or library management.

That covers a lot of folks but because of budget cuts library assistants, technicians and paraprofessionals have had to take up some of the responsibilities of librarians. There are things we know and don't know. We might need help.

The question is should we have our own advocacy and support group?
I'm still trying to find people to ask that question so stay tuned.

C. Chambers said...

Well, halleluah! ....having worked in a library where non-librarian staff have no identity and no voice, I can say that it will take a few fearless mavericks to make this organization heard. I know a lot of strong voices who are strong only during 15 minute breaks and gripe sessions (amongst ourselves). Take a stand, people! Let's get involved -- where can I help and sign me up! I didn't know this organization existed. Non-librarian staff lack leadership and fearless warriors! :)

Gena said...

HiYa C, I think that is what I am finding out via back channels. Folks don't know about COLT and have questions. I'm waiting on a few more email responses but we'll see.

No, to my knowledge there is no So Cal equivalent of COLT. I think it would be hard to have a real-time group of workers because of schedules and other demands. This virtual thing ain't no walk in the park either.