Education is the cornerstone of Daviess County Public Library's mission, and while that mission is beneficial to the community, it extends past its patrons and benefits the library's staff, Erin Waller, library director, said.
"Education has always been a big part of what we do here for our staff," she said. "Whether it be trainings, seminars or seeking a degree. We have such great homegrown staff that moved up through the organization and education opportunities help us keep and develop them in house. We also benefit from the education that they receive as they become more knowledgeable in their position."
While an educational assistance policy has been a part of the library for years, at a regular library board meeting on May 15, the board voted unanimously to make amendments to the policy to bring it up to the needs of staff as well as the library's. The purpose of the amendments, according to the policy, is to encourage staff development through both formal and informal education so that employees can maintain and improve job-related skills or enhance their ability to compete for reasonably attainable jobs within the library.
Many of the library's positions, particularly in specialized or managerial roles, require a bachelor's degree to even be considered, Waller said, so many of those reaping the benefits of educational assistance are looking toward attaining a master's degree.
"We didn't want to specify that it was just a degree in library science," she said. "It could be someone in our technology department that wants to advance their studies. It is on a case by case basis based on the individual's needs and the library's needs."
Through educational assistance, the library will cover costs up to in-state tuition for eligible employees that have completed at least one year of service in a full-time, professionally classified position at the library, according to the policy. Once approved, the candidate must follow certain guidelines that were added to the existing policy on May 15.
"It is a matter of keeping them and we benefit from the education that they get as well," she said.
Brian Lashbrook, library technology manager, was the recipient of the library's educational assistance policy when he pursued his Master's in Library Science through an online program at the University of Kentucky.
Lashbrook finished his degree two years ago after fours years in the program, he said.
"It was a great experience, I was offered the ability to go, so I applied and got in," he said. "Everything I took applied to what I was doing and I had never had that academic experience before. I enjoyed it. I'm glad I did it, I am a full librarian now, which is nice."
The program is open and staff will be notified of the changes so that any that are interested in professional growth within the library's ranks will have the opportunity to do so, which is the point, Waller said.
"We have a lot of homegrown promotions," she said. "We have people that started as pages in high school and they are still here and have moved up through the ranks. Typically that is what happens. If we provide assistance, we want them to stay with us so we can reap the benefits of that education we helped them get."
Jacob Mulliken, 270-228-2837, firstname.lastname@example.org