Student librarians

This guide provides guidelines for schools at all levels on the selection, training and management of student librarians, sometimes also known as library monitors.

Contents

Benefits of having student librarians
Recruitment and selection process
Training programme for student librarians
Rewards and privileges for student librarians
Managing your student librarian team

Benefits of having student librarians

  • Provides positive role models to library users
  • Develops a sense of student ownership of the library
  • Creates opportunities for student input
  • Raises the profile of the library through promotion to peers
  • Extends students’ skills in using the library
  • Enables students to work as part of a team
  • Assists with a range of library duties

Recruitment and selection process

Student librarians are volunteers selected by the Teacher with Library Responsibility (TLR), Library Manager or Library Team. They become part of your library management team and contribute to the effective running of the library.

A formal recruitment and selection process:

  • demonstrates fairness
  • raises the profile of the library
  • gives status to the role of student librarian
  • provides students with real “work experience”

For the recruitment process, you will need to prepare:

Before recruiting students, decide on the following:

  • The number of students you wish to select once or twice a year (Terms 1 and 3) or term-by-term
  • Whether to also keep a “waiting list” of keen students for times when appointed student librarians are unavailable due to other commitments or illness
  • The year levels from which they will be drawn
  • Their tasks and responsibilities
  • Selection criteria (skills, qualities and attitudes) and include these in the job description and job application
  • A training programme: see Student librarians’ training levels and awards (DOC). Use your library network for examples of existing programmes.
  • Who will be responsible for training and supervision
  • Which part of the school day will be rostered: before / during / after school, interval, lunchtime
  • The rewards and privileges you will offer your student librarians
  • Status and awards such as badges of responsibility, leadership roles
  • Option of payment at secondary level for specific tasks such as stocktaking or shelving after school

Start recruiting by promoting the student librarian programme to appropriate year levels, teachers and syndicate leaders. Provide copies of the job description and application form to staff and interested students.

Training programme for student librarians

  • A training programme which is skills-based and age-appropriate is essential for an effective student librarian programme.
  • Consider having a trial and review period as part of the programme.
  • Share your ideas and examples of training programmes and rewards when networking with other schools.
  • Training modules are effective as students work through a range of activities at defined levels, achieving rewards and acknowledgment at each level.
  • Design appropriate activities to allow you to measure a student’s skill level and achievement in each area.

Here are some areas of responsibility and tasks to consider adopting as part of your training programme for student librarians:

Shelving

Know the library layout and where different sections are located, using standard systems for organising the collection:

  • Books arranged on shelves from left to right, top to bottom, bay-by-bay
  • Numerical and alphabetical order of different sections
  • Shelves up to ¾ full
  • Face-out display of attractive books
  • Ongoing shelf tidying
  • Option of assigning “Bay Managers” with each person being responsible for keeping one bay of shelving in order

Circulation

  • Be able to use the library computer system to issue and return library items
  • Know how to handle reservations, overdues and loan limits
  • Put books needing repair aside for mending

Processing

Be able to help identify and protect new library items by:

  • using appropriate school and library stamps
  • applying labels, for example, coloured dots, genre and spine labels, barcodes
  • covering with suitable material

Environment

Know about the upkeep of the library environment:

  • Keep tables and chairs and cushions neatly arranged
  • Turn lights, heaters, computers on /off
  • Open / close windows, curtains, blinds
  • Clean shelves, books, computers, furniture
  • Look after plants and pets such as fish or birds

Helping library users

Be able to help users to:

  • locate items using the Online Public Access Catalogue (OPAC)
  • locate items on the shelf using Dewey classification numbers (DOC) for non-fiction, and the alphabet for fiction
  • locate information from a variety of formats:& magazines, information file, electronic material
  • use reference tools, for example, an index to an encyclopedia
  • recognise parts of a book, such as contents page, index, glossary, bibliography

Know how to interact positively with users by:

  • listening
  • using open questions
  • making eye contact and smiling
  • taking the initiative to help

Promotion

Learn about ways to promote the library, its collection and services such as:

  • Creating displays based on an author, theme or event
  • Writing / illustrating reviews or recommendations
  • Contributing to a library newsletter, blog, intranet site or library page on school website
  • Talking about good reads in class, during a visit to the library or at assembly
  • Buddy reading to peers or juniors
  • Using ICT to create book trailers, slideshows, book-related images and videos
  • Helping to run library competitions and events, for example, quizzes, author visits, Book Week, book fairs
  • Being a library guide for visitors to the school

Collection Development

Help library staff to select library resources by:

  • recommending book and magazine titles
  • keeping a Suggestions Book
  • surveying users for ideas

ICT

Use ICT skills to assist library staff and users with:

  • internet use, including knowledge of the school’s Acceptable Use Policy
  • troubleshooting computers
  • using the photocopier and printer
  • copyright and copying limits

Training booklet

You may find it useful to provide student librarians with their own individual booklet for their training programme. The booklet could include:

  • A brief introduction outlining the importance and responsibility of their role as a contribution to library management and the positive perception of the library by users
  • A list of daily duties as appropriate for your school library
  • The training levels presented as an awards programme.

Rewards and privileges for student librarians

Student librarians deserve acknowledgement and rewards for their important contribution to library management and development. Ensure rewards for student librarians are included in the library budget.

Examples include:

  • Explicit acknowledgement and positive reinforcement from the principal and teaching staff, as well as the Teacher with Library Responsibility and library team
  • Student librarians’ names, photos and short biographies including their reading favourites displayed in the library
  • Identifying team name, clothing or accessories, for example, t-shirts, caps, badges, sashes
  • Small weekly awards or prizes, such as stickers, Librarian of the Week, books
  • End of term or end of year party /outing /gift (book voucher)
  • Borrowing privileges
  • Involvement in special library activities and promotions
  • Use of library workroom facilities, to for example, eat their lunch or make hot drinks
  • Photocopier privileges
  • Internet privileges
  • Certificates or awards (may be used for their curriculum vitae)
  • Shopping expeditions to help select books

Managing your student librarian team

  • Create clearly defined tasks and simple, straightforward workflows. See Primary school task list (DOC) and Secondary school task list (DOC) for examples.
  • Organise flexible rosters and share tasks equally
  • Ensure there is ongoing supervision by teachers and /or library staff
  • Schedule training time
  • Timetable regular meetings with the Teacher with Library Responsibility and the library team to enable student librarians to discuss activities and upcoming events, make suggestions, ask questions and raise any issues
  • Periodically review and update the student librarian programme
  • Your School Library Handbook is where you should file all documentation about student librarians

Image: