3rd Congress on Professional Education: Focus on Library Support Staff (COPE III)

May 16-17, 2003
College of DuPage
Glen Ellyn, IL



  1. To give voice to the three main issues indicated in the Library Support Staff Interests Roundtable survey of 1997 and to define strategies for change:

    a) Career ladders (few opportunities for advancement).

    b) Compensation not appropriate to level of education, experience, and responsibilities.

    c) Lack of access to continuing education and training opportunities.

  2. To find ways to address the shortage of library staff members, including the recruitment of library support staff members and their changing roles due to the shortage of librarians.

  3. To define the role of library support staff members in the American Library Association and, also, to define the responsibility of ALA toward library support staff members.

  4. To define ways to express mutual respect between all who staff America's libraries and to define ways to celebrate the commonality of purpose among library staff members.


For the purposes of COPE 3, library support staff members will be those who work in a library of any type in a supportive role and who do not have a master's degree in library or information science. Regarding non-MLS specialists, the following excerpt from the report of the ALA Executive Board Taskforce that originally recommended that the Congress be held is being followed by the Steering Committee:

While it is recognized that library support staff are defined as those involved in library operations at all levels, for purposes of this particular Congress, the planning group felt that emphasis should not be on the non-MLS "specialists" within the library settings (i.e., human resource managers, public relations specialists, information technology specialist, graphic artists, media relations specialist, etc.) The planning group felt that this group of individuals employed in libraries has very different issues than library support staff or paraprofessionals. Many "specialists" identify more strongly with their principle areas of expertise rather than the broader field of library work.


The Congress will convene at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, May 16, 2003 at the College of DuPage. Maureen Sullivan has agreed to facilitate the Congress. She will review the schedule and format with the participants and will provide a brief introduction to Appreciative Inquiry which will be used during the Congress to facilitate positive small and large group discussions.

A keynote speaker will address the participants following Maureen's introduction. The first of four small group discussion sessions will be held followed by reporting out from the groups. Friday will conclude with a panel presentation by those who have effected positive change in support staff climate in libraries followed by a reception and dinner buffet.

Saturday's session will begin at 8:00 a.m. with a continental breakfast and will be composed of several small group discussions and brief reporting sessions with a concluding plenary session that will focus on achieving consensus on the key action items to pursue after the Congress. This plenary session will be lead by Maureen Sullivan. The Congress will adjourn at 5:00 p.m.

Delegates and observers will be housed at the Holiday Inn Select in Naperville, IL. The Holiday Inn is a 10-minute drive from the College of DuPage.