by Susan O’Neill
SUGAR GROVEâ€”The Library Technical Assistant Associate in Applied Science Degree and Certificate Program is among the new offerings at Waubonsee Community College this year. Three of the program’s classes are offered this semester, including an introduction to technical services, as well as reference and research strategies.
Until this semester, the closest community college that offered this degree or certificate was the College of DuPage (COD) in Glen Ellyn, Ill. Library Technical Assistants Merrill Poloian and Michelle Drawz, employees of the Sugar Grove Public Library, obtained their certificates at COD.
â€œIt’s beyond checking out books,â€ Poloian said. â€œIt’s the ins and outs of behind-the-scenes of the library.â€
Poloian said the classes address the more technical aspects of library science, such as cataloging, technology services, creating a web page, and buying audio and media equipment.
Through the program, students also learn what questions to ask to find out what patrons are really looking for; how to choose the right books for the library’s collection based on the district’s demographics; and how to create displays, programs and events, based on the community’s population and its interests.
After students finish the classes, they complete an internship at a library other than their own to gain practical experience.
Town and Country Public Library Circulation Supervisor Cathy Semrick said that three people who work at the Elburn library have the LPA certificate.
Semrick said the library staff are thrilled that Waubonsee is offering the program.
â€œCOD is just far enough that it makes it hard,â€ she said. â€œSeveral staff have expressed interest (in the Waubonsee program).â€
Elburn employee Deb Smith, who works in technology services, said the certificate teaches all aspects of the library.
â€œIt makes you well-rounded,â€ she said. â€œIt introduces you to some things that you don’t already know.â€
According to Noblitt, the programs offered at Waubonsee are designed to serve students who want to enter the library field, as well as those currently working in it. He said the Technology in Libraries course will be especially helpful to those in the field who want to update their skills and stay current in the evolving profession.
According to the Illinois Department of Employment Security, the five-county area served by Waubonsee employs 1,003 library technical assistants, with 38 average annual job openings.
â€œWorking in a library setting is an extremely rewarding career that is solidly in demand,â€ said Mary Edith Butler, Dean for Communications and Library Services. â€œToday’s library staff works with more than just books. This is a career field that encompasses a great deal of technology and cutting-edge equipment, along with the great books.â€