LIBRARY SUPPORT STAFF MEMBERSHIP OUTREACH PLAN
This document introduces a proposal for a three year test membership project aimed at recruiting
library support staff to the American Library Association. The project involves four groups: two
divisions of ALA, the Reference & User Services Association (RUSA) and the Association for
Library Collections & Technical Services (ALCTS); the round table, Support Staff Interests Round
Table; and the ALA Membership Marketing Department. It proposes a special membership
package consisting of membership in ALA, RUSA or ALCTS, and SSIRT for a single price.
The work in libraries is changing more rapidly than ever before. New positions are being created to
address these rapid changes. Current positions are being transformed. New management structures are
being put in place. The role of the librarian is being evaluated and as a result is changing. Library
support staff are taking on new responsibilities and tasks. Work that used to be “professional” is done
increasingly by library support staff. This is particularly the case in public services (reference,
circulation, and ILL) and technical services (cataloging, serials, and acquisitions). In many libraries,
library support staff serve as full-time information providers at the reference desk working with librarians
or, in some cases, in place of a librarian. In technical services, copy and, in many cases, original
cataloging, acquisitions, serials processing, gift processing, and catalog maintenance are now important
library support staff positions.
Providing services to a “new” library staff should be a priority to the American Library Association.
Membership services should:
support their career needs through publications tailored to library support staff available at a
encourage continuing education opportunities at member pricing, and certification programs
ensure an ability to have a voice heard in ALA through committee membership (in person
and virtual), news items/columns in American Libraries and divisional publications, and
recognize their achievements through an awards program.
ALA has a stake in expanding its membership to library support staff. The very growth in the
Association could well rest in attracting all library staff to the association. Richness through diversity is a
high priority for ALA. Library support staff bring a different perspective, a fresh outlook, a more broadly
based commitment, and a diverse cultural, experiential, and organizational background to ALA.
SUPPORT STAFF ISSUES AND CONCERNS:
Over the last several years, the Support Staff Interests Round Table (SSIRT) has collected a wealth of
information on the issues and concerns of library support staff, largely through surveying its membership.
In 1997, SSIRT asked almost 2,000 library support staff about issues of concerns to them. The top five
issues were career ladders (few opportunities for advancement), compensation, continuing education,
keeping up with technological changes, and certification. These were library staff who for the most part
earned less than $30,000 a year, had a bachelor’s degree or less education, worked in publicly-funded
libraries (public library or public academic library), and overwhelmingly held a position in acquisitions,
cataloging, circulation, reference, interlibrary loan, or serials.
In a 1999 report on Career Ladders, SSIRT issued a “Statement of Needs.” That Statement included the
following: opportunities to identify skills and competencies that can lead to advancement: opportunities to
find out ways we can harness our skills and personality traits toward the types of libraries and areas of
service for which each of us is best suited; opportunities to develop skills in order to advance; good
educational and training programs to gain the skills; educational and training programs not just specific to
a particular job; identification of issues that have a special potential to bring librarians and
paraprofessionals closer together; sources for job leads; and evaluation of job classifications based on job
analysis and job evaluation.
SSIRT’s March 2000 report on Continuing Education concludes with another “Statement of Needs.” In
this statement, SSIRT enumerates the following: library administrators need to be supportive of and
willing to give support staff the CE and training they need to succeed; support staff need opportunities to
attend CE functions as part of the job; libraries need to set aside funding for support staff to attend events;
libraries should provide reimbursement for tuition related to CE; associations should provide scholarships
and grants for support staff to attend activities; staff need an avenue for notification of these activities; CE
and training programs need to be held in rural areas or be available by alternative delivery mechanisms;
there should be a standard core competencies for all levels of support staff; salary increase should be tied
to completed CE programs; more training is needed for new technologies that support staff are expected
to use; and training in providing better customer service is a high priority.
8282d699-114b-4d45-a2f9-d85b2bb11ca4.doc 2 05/19/12
Among the recommendations of the SSIRT Task Force on Compensation report, dated June 2000, were
the following which directly speak to this project: that ALA establish an accredited national certification
program for library support staff; that SSIRT establish a grant/award program through which support staff
may receive funds for new and continuing education; and that ALA initiate a strong advertising program
within the profession, educating library administrators as to the concerns of library support staff, offering
solutions for staff recognition and incentives that go beyond monetary compensation.
PROPOSED MEMBERSHIP OUTREACH PLAN:
Through the collaboration of ALCTS, RUSA, SSIRT, and the ALA Membership Committee, a test
membership promotion project, for first time members only, aimed specifically at library support staff
will be launched at ALA 2001 Annual Conference in San Francisco.
ALCTS and RUSA are the divisions that represent areas of library work employing a high percentage of
library support staff and in which a shift is taking place from librarian to library support staff for many
functions. SSIRT has long represented the library support staff on issues and concerns within ALA. It is
the link to the support staff population and has done considerable research into support staff membership
issues and concerns. This partnership between ALCTS, RUSA, and SSIRT provides a balanced approach
targeting technical and public services staff.
This project will prove or disprove some assumptions. Will such a project increase membership? Will it
meet the needs and interests of an un-served population?
Some have suggested that support staff have comparable or higher salaries than librarians and don't need
a discounted membership fee as an incentive. Although that may be true in some cases, this project seeks
to motivate support staff to join through targeting their interests and needs in more ways than discounting
the membership fee.
Some have raised concerns about defining support staff, non-professionals, or paraprofessionals.
Although this is not the most important issue in the test project, a definition of library support staff is
needed in identifying the potential audience. However, some people will self-identify appropriately as
part of the targeted market.
8282d699-114b-4d45-a2f9-d85b2bb11ca4.doc 3 05/19/12
Who are library support staff? Consider the following definition (a cumulated definition from input
received from ALCTS, RUSA, and SSIRT members).
Library support staff are members of a library’s staff who are in general
classified as non-exempt, not employed in a position classified as “professional,”
“faculty,” “management” (usually an exempt classification) or staff members
not holding an MLS degree, particularly from an ALA accredited program.
Libraries today have a broad array of employees with various job titles and with a variety of skills. This
project is intended for the employee classified as non-exempt such as: library clerk, library assistant,
library technician, preservation technician, information assistant, or other non-exempt library employee
This new membership initiative, for first time members only, runs from the 2001 Annual Conference in
San Francisco until the 2004 Annual Conference in Orlando. This affords the opportunity to unveil the
project at Annual Conference with a variety of marketing initiatives aimed at both the library support staff
and the libraries that employ them. A more detailed marketing plan is presented later in this document.
The plan for this project involves a content based approach, which targets specific programs and services
RUSA, ALCTS, and SSIRT could offer a potential library support staff member: continuing education
including preconferences, publications, virtual committee work, divisional institutes and conferences, and
other programs and services.
The membership is “packaged” into two categories: Public Services and Technical Services. Public
Services refers to any library support staff who is employed in a capacity that involves work: at any
information desk, be it in reference, special collections, branch libraries, or any specialized areas in which
a reference or information function occurs; circulation; reserves; periodicals; or interlibrary loan.
Technical Services refers to any library support staff who is employed in acquisitions, cataloging,
preservation, collection management, serials, or related area. The intent is to attract library support staff
who primarily work in areas represented by RUSA and ALCTS. An example of how a membership
brochure would look in terms of selecting the appropriate category of membership could be:
“If you work or are interested in Public Services, check this box ”
“If you work or are interested in Technical Services, check this box ”.
8282d699-114b-4d45-a2f9-d85b2bb11ca4.doc 4 05/19/12
Each membership category includes three memberships for one price: membership in ALA, membership
in SSIRT, and membership in either RUSA or ALCTS and their sections, based on the membership
A new dues structure for ALA is recommended to accommodate this pricing and membership model. It is
necessary that the pricing structure be established that allows RUSA, ALCTS, SSIRT, and ALA to
recover the costs of attracting and maintaining a member. Estimates are that the cost recovery for RUSA
and ALCTS is $20.
The dues pricing structure for this project is $59:
for $59 the person would get ALA membership, ALCTS or RUSA membership, and SSIRT
This allows the cost recovery for RUSA and ALCTS at $20, $7 for SSIRT membership, and $32 for ALA
How will we know that the project succeeds?
How will we know if we are meeting the needs and interests of this group?
An assessment of the project is necessary.
Assessment will be accomplished in several ways.
1. Quick measures: Increased membership in SSIRT, ALCTS, and RUSA
Increased number of hits on specific web pages tailored to the project,
such as the membership application or benefits page.
2. Longer term: Tracking retention rate of the new members through iMIS
Surveying those new members who did not renew
3. Meeting the needs of the new member:
Surveying those members, asking specific questions on CE evaluation
Monitoring participation on committees
Tracking attendance at conferences and CE courses
8282d699-114b-4d45-a2f9-d85b2bb11ca4.doc 5 05/19/12
BENEFITS OF ALA AND DIVISION MEMBERSHIP FOR SUPPORT STAFF:
(Enumerated but certainly not exclusive to these)
American Libraries from ALA
Library Resources & Technical Services (LRTS) from ALCTS
Reference and User Services Quarterly and RUSA Update from RUSA
Any current SSIRT publications or publications that may be initiated
Discounts for ALA CE opportunities, including web based courses/preconferences/workshops
Discounts to ALA Annual Conference and the Midwinter Meeting, division national institutes,
conferences and regional institutes
Access to committee work, including via virtual committee membership
Current menu of ALA discounts for car insurance, insurance, travel
10% discount on ALA Editions Books and ALA Graphics catalog items
Scholarship, grant, and internship possibilities (a sampling of ALA offerings)
Documents to the People Award
Tom C. Drewes Scholarship
Jackie Eubanks Award
Mary V. Gaver Scholarship
Miriam L. Hornback Scholarship
Paul Howard Award for Courage
Tony B. Leisner Scholarship
Leonard Wertheimer Multilingual Award
A complete list can be found on the ALA web site at www.ala.org/work/awards.
COORDINATING GROUP FROM ALA:
ALA Membership Marketing
Karen Muller, Executive Director
Charles Wilt, Deputy Executive Director
Cathleen Bourdon, Executive Director
Lorelle Swader, Director, Office of Human Resource Development and Recruitment
8282d699-114b-4d45-a2f9-d85b2bb11ca4.doc 6 05/19/12
The project will officially begin at the 2001 ALA Annual Conference in San Francisco with a joint booth
sponsored by RUSA, ALCTS, and SSIRT. Prior to and following the official inauguration of the project,
a test marketing effort will take place involving selected state library support staff groups. SSIRT will
identify 4-5 state groups to participate in a direct mail campaign. The goal is to test library support staff
interest in a variety of library markets for response to this project and its concepts. Marketing General,
the consulting firm currently employed by the Membership Marketing Department, will help develop the
approach strategy for this test marketing effort. The test market will also include library administration
from selected library markets, both public and academic. In conjunction with this, part of the ALA web
site will be devoted to the project including links to the RUSA, ALCTS, and SSIRT web pages, complete
with membership forms and benefit information.
Roll out at Annual 2001 – San Francisco
Press release(s) beginning April 2001
Ad in American Libraries, LRTS, RUSQ beginning late spring/summer, 2001
Joint booth at Annual 2001 – RUSA, ALCTS, SSIRT, ALA Membership
Sign your support staff up now campaign
Direct mail campaign to RUSA and ALCTS members - summer 2001
Targeted mail campaign to selected library directors, associate and assistant directors, and other
Direct mail campaign to support staff, identified by SSIRT - summer 2001
Targeted mail campaign to selected state library support staff groups identified by SSIRT
Promotion web presence on ALA web page and division/SSIRT web pages with links to each
President’s column mention in RUSA and ALCTS publications
Announcements on various technical services and public services e-mail discussion lists such as
AUTOCAT, ACQNET-L, PACS-L, CIRCPLUS and SERIALST.
Midwinter Meeting 2001
Present to ALA Executive Board for approval (Hodges)
Present to BARC for approval (Hodges)
Present to ALCTS and RUSA Boards and Membership Committees (Wilt and Bourdon)
Present to ALA Membership Committee (Wilt and Hodges)
Present to SSIRT (Swader)
Consultation with Marketing General on marketing strategy
(Hodges, Wilt, Muller, Bourdon, Swader)
Begin design of brochure (Wilt and ALA Production Services)
Begin design of web site (Wilt and ALA Production Services)
Design ad for American Libraries, LRTS, and RUSQ (ALA Production Services)
Press release (Wilt et al.)
8282d699-114b-4d45-a2f9-d85b2bb11ca4.doc 7 05/19/12
Ad in American Libraries (Wilt, et al. and ALA Production Services)
Ads in LRTS and RUSQ (Repeat of AL ad)
Mention in electronic publications and on discussion lists
Begin test marketing (ALA Membership Marketing)
Annual Conference 2001
Official beginning with booth sponsored by ALCTS, RUSA, and SSIRT
Continuation of test marketing (ALA Membership Marketing)
Analyze progress with Marketing General and further develop strategy
(ALA Membership Marketing, Divisions, and Marketing General)
Begin to analyze results from test marketing
Repeat ads in American Libraries, LRTS, and RUSQ
Mention project in ALCTS and RUSA Presidents’ columns in publications
PROJECTED EXPENSES (see budget table):
The anticipated first year expenses will be absorbed by the current operating budgets of ALCTS, RUSA,
SSIRT, and ALA Membership Marketing. This list represents the initial expenditures anticipated for the
Membership promotion brochures: design and printing including membership form (new)
Mailings: postage and mailing lists
Booth at Annual: cost of booth, signage, handouts
Ad space in AL: design and cost
Web site design: cost for production services
Adequate ongoing support will be written into the budgets for FY 2002.
8282d699-114b-4d45-a2f9-d85b2bb11ca4.doc 8 05/19/12
BUDGET FOR LIBRARY SUPPORT STAFF OUTREACH PROJECT
(all dollar amounts are approximate)
Membership Brochures – Printing (10,000) $ 1,500.00
Membership Brochures – Design $ 250.00
Membership Brochures – Postage (5,000) $ 1,500.00
Membership Brochures – Outside Mailing Costs $ 500.00
Mailing Lists $ 500.00
Annual Conference Booth (standard 10’X10’) $ 2,250.00
Includes handouts, signage, booth expenses
American Libraries ad space (2-3 ads) $ 500.00
Web site design – production services $ 250.00
Consultant expenses from Marketing General $ To Be Determined
TOTAL $ 7,250.00
ALCTS SHARE $ 2,500.00
RUSA SHARE $ 2,500.00
ALA MEMBERSHIP SHARE Consultant fees + $1,500
SSIRT SHARE $ 750.00
8282d699-114b-4d45-a2f9-d85b2bb11ca4.doc 9 05/19/12