National Library Week is a time to appreciate libraries and to celebrate those who make them vibrant and welcoming community centers – library workers! A few of our own library assistants (above) had the opportunity to attend this year’s 21st Annual Library Assistants Day Celebration, sponsored by the METRO New York Library Council.
Hosted at the SUNY Downstate Medical Center in East Flatbush, the event brought together support staff from across the boroughs for workshops, conversations, and even a prize raffle! The day’s theme: “Library Support Staff Equals Strong Foundations.”
Library assistants and support staff are often the front line of library service, setting the tone for patrons’ entire library experience. As a Touro library assistant, I hold this humbling responsibility to be a priceless treasure of the profession. That said, it can be exhausting!
No one could speak to the gifts and challenges of library service better than the keynote speaker, Louise Stamp. Ms. Stamp, Library Administrative Assistant, is group leader for NYPL’s Rikers Island outreach program and an exemplar of human-centered service. The program brings circulating materials to incarcerated people at Rikers, provides volunteer-based reference assistance, and more (find info here).
Ms. Stamp spoke with passionate dedication about her involvement and leadership. She reminded us that each and every interaction with our communities sends a message about the quality of service we provide. No pressure, right? However, she stressed that a firm foundation in oneself is key. Ms. Stamp encouraged attendees to serve from the heart rather than from the wallet, always bearing in mind that we, as library assistants, serve human beings. Serving from the heart requires sincerity, integrity, empathy, and compassion, she said, all of which are unquantifiable in value.
To maintain our energies for bringing this value to our communities, attendees enjoyed a number of workshops throughout the day, including self-care, financial planning, technology skills, adapting to change, retirement, and health & wellness.
With a few new life skills, it will be easier to sustain the high standards of service our communities deserve. All in all, the Library Assistants Day Celebration was a much-appreciated recharge, a reminder to be accountable to the people we serve, and an affirmation that the work of support staff is not merely valuable but invaluable.