The compilation of this entry was begun by Debra W. Waugh based on results from a target posted in March 2008.

LM-Net members who contributed this information include:

(Info to come soon)

The initial entry includes: Overall Theme from Responses to the Target; Detailed Responses to the Target; a space for Additional Ideas; and the begining of a list of Links.

Overall Theme from Responses to Target

Provide students with daily and personally specific assignments and evaluate their work regularly.

Detailed Responses to the Target

  • Determine what jobs need to be done, and compare those to the number of assistants you will have before setting up work schedules.
  • The first skill to be taught should be shelving. Students should be on a rotation when they start shelving books so that they will have a chance to learn the entire collection.
  • A good evaluation trick for shelving is to have the students place the shelved books with the spine facing the ceiling or use color coded oversize bookmarks. That makes it much easier for you to see what needs to be checked and to check their work.
  • Every student should know how to use the circulation system to check out books, check them in, place books on hold, and so forth.
  • Assistants should receive more intensive training than regular students on how to use the online catalog, how to find information in online databases, how to conduct an advanced search on the Internet, and how the Dewey Decimal System works. They should also be familiar with basic reference information such as the location of the title page, copyright date, and place of publication. They will be the leaders, advisors and models for library patrons.
  • Provide some sort of manual or guide for student assistants where they can review details of how to do their jobs, etc.
  • Use a daily log sheet where students can inital the work they have done. The log sheet may be broken down by hour or by task. (Best used as an evaluation tool for situations where students receive a grade for their library work period)
  • Keep anecdotal records of student work. (Also best for a graded "class" situation)
  • Revision and re-working are necessary to ensure that assistants really know how to do their jobs, and to assure that they understand that their jobs are important. (Notice that these are positive words. Do not get angry when students fail to do their jobs correctly. Just take time to show them--again-- how to do it the right way, and perhaps make a note to evaluate that student more carefully for a period of time to make sure an "attitude adjustment" has taken hold.)
  • Explain to assistants why each job is important. We check off items on packing slips to ensure that we won't be overcharged for a shipment of books. We property stamp books so that they can be returned to us if found by a third party, or tuned in to a library miles away or across town.
  • Take on fewer assistants so that there will be more work to keep each of them busy.
  • Have students use self-evaluation sheets to check off the work they have accomplished. These should be checked regularly by the librarian or an adult aide.
  • Have students work a specific section of shelves each day. This work can include shelving, shelf-reading, dusting, facing the shelves, tightening the books, and selecting books for face out display in the section. During second semester, students can also be given the responsibility to inventory books in their section.
  • Responses were divided on whether each assistant should have one specific major job to work throughout a semester, or whether the major job should change more often. If changed more often, the major task should be cycled so that students return to familiar jobs relatively often.
  • Students should have a list of additional jobs that are to be done each day in addition to their major specific job. These jobs might include dusting something other than a book shelf, cleaning windows, cleaning monitor screens, making deliveries, checking for clutter, processing magazines, organizing and maintaining the magazine section, clipping magazine or newspaper articles for teachers, pulling materials requested by teachers, cleaning A-V equipment, using disinfectant wipes to clean doorknobs and other frequent contact places, creating brochures of search tips and "work at home" passwords for online databases, labeling shelves, creating bookmarks or designing a book display. Suggested job ideas for this purpose can be displayed on a bulletin board in the area where assistants keep their belongings. Provide "I Need to Study" coupons for when assistants really do need time to study. The occassional break to read an interesting book might also be allowed IF it is used for that purpose. Otherwise, the assistants stay busy after their daily assignment by working on the jobs from the bulletin board. Additional jobs that might be assigned or included in bulletin board jobs are included below.
  • Students can add information (tags) to the contents section of MARC records for books such as collections of biographies, poetry and short stories where that task is a straightforward job not requiring professional discretion.
  • Have assistants process new books by property stamping them and attaching bar code labels.
  • Teach assistants to repair books, attach adhesive plastic covers to paperbacks, and size and attach mylar covers to book jackets.
  • Manners, etiquette, and a professional attitude should be taught in order for assistants to assist library patrons properly.
  • Have assistants "de-process" weeded books.
  • If you have two students on duty during the same period, assign on to the circulation desk and one to his/her regular task for the day. Depending on traffic, the student at the circulation desk might be able to do some of the extra jobs from the bulletin board while also being present to handle checkouts and checkins.
  • Have discussions with your assistants about what you have seen when evaluating their work.
  • Assistants can print, highlight, and deliver overdue notices.
  • With luck, assistants will be familiar enough with the library from their shelving tasks and from their training on the online catalog that they can help other students find books. This can be a real source of pride for them.
  • Do not let student assistants take on any job that would allow them to view confidential information about other students or that would involve them handling money. You can explain that this is for their own protection in case a problem arises.
  • Keeping students involved in performing their tasks well can be very motivating to them. They may even consider a career in library science.
  • If your assistants still have time on their hands, let the faculty know that they can also call on the students as their assistants also.
  • Once in awhile, provide a fun activity for students that ties into their work. A treasure hunt linked to shelf-reading might be one idea. Deliberately move a book to the wrong place. Put a clue inside it. When the book is taken to the correct place, another clue is found in a book that is out of place on that shelf, and so on until the clues add up to a way to obtain a "treasure" that the students will really appreciate, such as a $30.00 gas card, a no-homework pass for one of their classes, a gift card to the mall, and so on.
  • Think about your desire for jobs to be done "perfectly" and then what jobs would be OK if they were just done "sort of OK". Student assistants are not receiving the big bucks you are to motivate them toward perfection. <grin>
  • Some students may be limited in their abilities. If a student cannot understand the intricacies of shelving nonfiction it is still possible for that student to shelve fiction books. If you have a student with dyslexia or another learning disability, confer with the special education teachers to see if there are special techniques you can use with that student.
  • As they work a section of books, students can pull out books in need of mending and check them out to a "patron" called mending. If possible, train one student or more to do the mending for you.
  • Assistants can be responsible for checking current inventory on printer paper, important forms, and such, and could see to it that more paper is acquired, additional copies are made of forms, and so on.
  • Student assistants must be held to the same rules and procedures as students in classrooms. Track and report tardies and absences. Do not allow assistants to leave the library without permission and a hall pass. If the assistants are leaving the library on official business provide them a badge or pass that specifies that. Students who are missing during their library period should be punished by the administration just as any other student would.


Additional Ideas

The Order in The Library Game could help new or prospective library assistance practice shelving skills & print a certificate to document skills.


Links to Documents, Images, Presentations, etc.


Library Assistants Application Form - Debra W. Waugh, Graham High School
(This form is designed as much to see how well students can follow instructions and fill out a form as it is to actually gather information. It also tests their patience with completing a task that takes some time and attention. I offer LD students the opportunity to fill out the form with assistance from their resource teachers.)

Evaluation of Completed Application Form - Debra W. Waugh, Graham High School
(This form is completed when the student returns the application form above.)



Please add your links to this list.
It is best to upload the documents to a separate web space and then link to them externally from the wiki.