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What is National Library Workers Day? Part I

National Library Workers Day (N.L.W.D.) falls on the Tuesday of National Library Week. This year, National Library Week is April 13-19, 2014 and National Library Workers Day is April 15, 2014. The American Library Association-Allied Professional Association (A.L.A.-A.P.A.) (“the organization for the advancement of library employees”) sponsors National Library Workers Day. It is a “companion organization” of the American Library Association (A.L.A.).

The A.L.A.-A.P.A. is a non-profit professional organization chartered by the State of Illinois established “to promote the mutual professional interests of librarians and other library workers.” According to the A.L.A.-A.P.A., “NLWD is a day for library staff, users, administrators and Friends groups to recognize the valuable contributions made by all library workers.”

In June of 2001, A.L.A. Council authorized the establishment of the A.L.A. Allied Professional Association to enable the certification of individuals in specializations beyond the initial professional degree. In January of 2002, with the approval of preliminary bylaws, the scope of the organization was broadened to include advocacy for the “mutual professional interests of librarians and other library workers.”

The A.L.A. and A.L.A.-A.P.A. are separate, independent legal organizations, but they are tied together by fully interlocked governing bodies. The governing body of the A.L.A.-A.P.A. is the A.L.A.-A.P.A. Council, whose members are those individuals concurrently serving on the A.L.A. Council.

Within the policies established by the A.L.A.-A.P.A. Council, the A.L.A.-A.P.A. is managed by the Board of Directors, whose members are those individuals concurrently serving on the A.L.A. Executive Board. The A.L.A.-A.P.A. Bylaws are available online.

As the A.L.A. began celebrating National Library Workers day in 2004, this is the eleventh celebration. U.S. Representative Major Owens of New York submitted a resolution on National Library Workers Day (H. Res. 597) (“Congratulating the American Library Association (ALA) as it celebrates its first annual National Library Workers Day on April 20, 2004”).

To that end, the A.L.A.-AP.A. is focused on two broad areas: (1) “certification of individuals in specializations beyond the initial professional degree” and (2) “direct support of comparable worth and pay equity initiatives, and other activities designed to improve the salaries and status of librarians and other library workers.” Pay Equity between the sexes is a major issue for the A.L.A.-AP.A., which is encouraging members to wear red on Equal Pay Day, which this year is Tuesday, April 8, 2014.

The Certified Public Library Administrator ® Program is a voluntary post-M.L.S. certification program for public librarians with three years or more of supervisory experience. Candidates complete seven courses – four core and three electives of their choice. They average ten years of management experience and twenty-four employees.

A librarian may be promoted to department head, branch manager, assistant director, or deputy director. To become a manager, one will need (in addition to a positive professional reputation and a bit of good luck) four-to-ten years of experience as a librarian and two years of experience as a supervisor. Ambitious librarians should periodically attend workshops to show they are committed to professional development.

A manager who is proficient and lucky may get promoted to deputy director or assistant director, and someone with any of those three jobs with a sterling reputation (and lots of good luck) may be promoted to library director or executive director. Typically, to become a library director, one must have at least ten years or work experience as a librarian and at least five years of managerial experience.

To be the director of a library is to be the public face of that library. Library directors deal not only with library boards, but municipal and other government officials, the press, philanthropists, and civic leaders. The authorities who hire a library director will likely look for someone who not only has attained certain degrees and X amount of experience, but also a professional demeanor, demonstrated organizational skills and leadership abilities.

While the executive director of a large library may be in charge of hundreds of employees and dozens of library branches, the director of a really small library may be the only full-time employee and do things for himself or herself that the executive director of a large library delegates to others like lock and unlock the doors, fix things, or pay the bills. This is also true of museum curators.

Library heads go by a variety of titles. Brian Bannon is Commissioner of the Chicago Public Library. Luis Herrera is San Francisco City Librarian.

Libraries, library workers, managers, and patrons can submit a Star on the N.L.W.D. Web site to honor a great worker, team, or department. The A.L.A.-A.P.A. advises, “Libraries, library workers, and managers can also use the day as an opportunity to send out an all-user or all-department email in honor of NLWD, thanking staff or colleagues for their excellence.”

The non-profit organization also encourages individual library workers, State A.L.A. Chapters, union locals, librarian social groups and organizations, Friends of the Library groups, trustees, to promote N.L.W.D., as well as academic library HR departments. The A.L.A.-A.P.A. also maintains a National Library Workers Day Store on the Café Press Web site.

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