Thursday, January 20, 2011

Library Notes

This is for Jim at TeacherNinja, who requested more information about day-to-day library operations.

Library Helpers. Oh, how all of the students want to be library helpers. Unfortunately, this does not mean they all want to shelve books. No, they want to stand at the only computer within 20 feet of the circ desk. This is fine when we have classes and I am roaming around helping students get books, but after I've taken care of the class, and the study hall students, and have checked in all of the books (something only I do, after being challenged by parents!) and filed the circ cards, sometimes I have five minutes to do something frivolous like, oh, check work e mail or look for new releases of YA fiction. This is hard to do with two sixth graders standing at my elbow.

I finally hired a full complement of workers. At least two every period of the day. I take applications. If a student does not fill it out completely (I do need to know what period your study hall is!), or if they answer that they want to be a helper because they hate study hall, they are not hired. Also not hired are students who are struggling with grades, have chronic overdue problems, or cannot behave themselves in the library. I switch out most of my helpers on a quarterly basis so that many students get a chance.

The jobs that the helpers are supposed to do (and which are posted for them to see) are:
Put books in alphabetical order on carts
Sharpen pencils
Dust shelves
Dust backs of chairs in computer lab
Push chairs in
Pick up stray paper
Straighten computer lab
Scrub pencil marks off tables
Sensitize books and pile up
Make the library a better place to be!!

This isn't that exciting, I know, but I remember spending a lot of time in my 4th grade library bundling up Campbell's soup labels. Try enough student helpers and you will find some that work really well. You will also find some students that don't do a lot of work, but need to be near you. School work always comes first for my students, and some of my students are "supervisors" who spend most of their time doing homework, which is fine!


  1. That's great to hear about. I'm at an elementary school, so I don't trust them to check-in or shelve, but I have a few older students that I let straighten or come in and help check out K students or help them find their books. I interned at a high school that had two kids per class period and they had assigned shelving and "library science" homework to complete to keep them busy!


  2. I'm a parent volunteer, and I like to come into my kids' school libraries for an hour or so and shelve. Usually the librarians like it. If I'm lucky, I'll also manage to help some kids find some books.

  3. When I was at the public library, we'd have student volunteers and sometimes it was hard to keep them busy enough. I used to have one that I trusted to help with the weeding list that we got. She'd find the books so we could check the condition and see if the book was just missing. I wished then that I had more kids like that, and not the ones I'd catch talking on their cell phones in the stacks.

  4. Do you have to give your student aides a grade? I sub at several jr. highs and some of them treat the job as an aide position and the librarian actually has to provide a grade for them. Just wondering.