We Are All Professionals: Inclusion, Othering, and the Changing Nature of Library Roles

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Automation, transition away from print, and shrinking staffs have resulted in major transitions in library assistant roles over the past few decades. Highly routinized work is disappearing; deep skills in process and project management, problem-solving, and supervision are the norm. Yet in many workplaces’ library assistants continue to be treated as a separate class of workers, and persistent attitudes about "paraprofessionals" and their work abound. In this webinar, we will discuss the changing nature of the typical library assistant, illuminate the ways that othering these colleagues can create a discouraging work environment, and articulate a vision for moving past this bifurcation to a future where the knowledge and expertise of all colleagues is valued, respected, and celebrated.


Library leaders from all types of libraries. 


  1. Library assistant work has modernized: Participants will be able to articulate these changes and be poised to discuss them with colleagues.
  2. Bifurcation of staff roles is often unnecessary, creates artificial divisions between different types of staff, and creates a roadblock to building diverse and inclusive workplaces.
  3. Learning Organizations create strength and success through leveraging the knowledge, perspectives, and skills of all staff, and present us with a path to excellence.


  • Jocelyn Kennedy, Harvard Law School Library
  • Lisa Shaw, Maine State Library
  • Jessica Panella, UConn School of Law Library


  • Josh LaPorte, St. John’s School of Law Library


  • Nicole Dyszlewski, Roger Williams University School of Law Library

AALL BODY OF KNOWLEDGE DOMAINS: Professionalism + Leadership At Every Level



No refunds will be given for any purchased live AALL webinar. This applies to non-AALL members only; live AALL webinars are free for AALL members.


Nicole Dyszlewski, Roger Williams University (RMU) School of Law Library

Nicole Dyszlewski currently serves as the head of reference, instruction, and engagement at the RWU Law Library. She joined the staff in 2015 as the research/access services librarian having come from a public legislative library. She received her BA from Hofstra University, JD from Boston University School of Law, and MLIS from the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Library and Information Studies. She is a member of the Massachusetts State Bar and the Rhode Island State Bar. Prior to becoming a law librarian, Dyszlewski practiced real estate law. Her areas of interest are mass incarceration, access to justice, law library leadership, and engagement.


Jocelyn Kennedy, Harvard Law School Library

Jocelyn Kennedy is the executive director of the Harvard Law School Library where she oversees the day-to-day operations of the law library. An expert in legal research, she is interested in the impact the evolution of search platforms has on the habits of legal researchers. She is also researching the disparity in promotion trajectory between men and women in the field of librarianship, a workforce dominated by females. Prior to joining the Harvard Law School Library, Kennedy served as the library director at the University of Connecticut School of Law, and was the faculty research librarian at the University of Michigan. Prior to her career in librarianship, she served as a congressional staff and was a law clerk for the New Hampshire Superior Court. She has a JD from the University of New Hampshire and an MLIS from the University of Washington.


Josh LaPorte, St. John’s School of Law Library

Josh LaPorte has worked in law libraries since 2005 and joined St. John’s Law in 2022. Prior to St. John’s, he worked at Boston University School of Law, where he managed library administration and oversaw access services functions, and at UConn School of Law, where he served as Circulation Supervisor. As reference & access services librarian, LaPorte oversees circulation, reserves, interlibrary loan, and assists students and faculty with research needs. 


Jessica Panella, UConn School of Law Library

As head of access services, Jessica Panella oversees the day-to-day operations of the Access Services Department, which includes the main desk, reserve operations, building, stacks and continuations management as well as document delivery/interlibrary loan operations. Panella holds a BA from UConn and an MLIS from Drexel University.


Lisa Shaw, Maine State Library

Lisa has worked for the Maine State Library since 2016 as the Rural and Small Libraries/Workforce Development Specialist. Prior to that, she was Library Director for the Caribou [Maine] Public Library and Assistant Director for the Mark & Emily Turner Memorial Library in Presque Isle, Maine. Lisa also worked for the Maine Department of Labor from 2002-2006. Lisa currently serves as Board President for the Bangor Area Homeless Shelter, Board Secretary for NAMI Maine, as a member of the Bangor Planning Board, as a member of ALA’s Public Libraries and Workforce Development Initiative [LibsWork], and as part of a statewide cross-agency micro-credentialing initiative. Lisa lives in Bangor, Maine, with her husband, daughter, and two cats.


We Are All Professionals: Inclusion, Othering, and the Changing Nature of Library Roles
04/27/2022 at 1:00 PM (CDT)  |  Recorded On: 04/28/2022
04/27/2022 at 1:00 PM (CDT)  |  Recorded On: 04/28/2022
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