Access Services: Prospective Student Assistant FAQ

Posted: August 2, 2019 9:00:00 AM CDT

As the Student Coordinator for Access Services (or as many know it as the Circulation Desk), I typically work with 12–13 students assistants every semester. Throughout the semester, a student assistant may need to resign, and it is up to me to fill this position. So, has it ever crossed your mind what one (or myself) looks for in a student employee?

  • What qualities should one have?
  • What experience should one have?

If you are one who has wondered about these questions, I am glad to answer.

What kind of employee do we employ?

To begin, when looking for any prospective employee I am looking for an individual who takes initiative. This individual must be able and willing to show up to work with a presentable and happy demeanor. This is not to say you are not allowed to have an off day (we all do), but as a member of the Access Services Department we are who library patrons see immediately upon entering the building, so our Student Employees need to be presentable and be approachable. Our patrons should feel welcomed and not feel intimidated about coming up to ask Student Assistants any questions they may have.

Many wonder if one must be an outgoing individual to apply for a Student Assistant position. Although we encourage and look for this, this is not to say that shy or introverted individuals should not apply. Access Services gives every individual the opportunity to grow and excel in our department and for some it also helps them learn to step a little out of their comfort zone. While working for our department, one will be interacting with faculty/staff, students, and fellow co-workers. Thus, allowing them to be more open in a welcoming environment.

Student worker reshelving books in the libraryDo I need to have worked in a library to get this job?

The simple answer to this is no. Another assumption many applicants have is that you must have library experience to work for our department. Library experience is great, but every library is different in regard to their classification of their collection, their policies, and their procedures. Our current Student Assistants, Graduate Assistants, and me, as the Student Coordinator, will aid in training all our new hires and show them the processes we do daily in this department.

As a Student Assistant, you will be trained on how to shelve books according to our library’s classification, maintenance of the stacks (meaning the main collection—on the 2nd floor), and many other tasks that are assigned daily. A new Student Assistants would also gain knowledge of what different departments are located within the library because there are others besides Access Services that many people do not know about.

Will you work around my class schedule?

Many applicants are worried about their class schedule and if we as a department can work with their class schedules. Yes, a Student Assistant is typically scheduled to work approximately 19 hours a week. If needed we can lower the number of hours one can work, and that is department based. All departments on campus including Access Services understand that education is important, and we are always willing to try our best to ensure the workload is not too much for anyone to handle. The number of scheduled hours may vary for different departments and that is something students should obtain clarification on with their hiring manager(s).

Is it hard working at the library?

Working for Access Services allows one to learn a lot about the background processes that go on here at the Mary and Jeff Bell Library. The job itself is not hard, but it is challenging in that you may need to problem-solve when trying to locate a book that may be misplaced. You will also have to familiarize yourself with how our items are classified according to the Library of Congress classification system (not the Dewey Decimal System), and you interact with different personalities every day. You also must be comfortable with asking for help, the items here are sometimes located in different areas of the library and you may need direction on where to find these particular items. Some people are very surprised to see the background processes that we do as a department and that it is not just checking in/out items as many assume upon getting the job here with Access Services.

By: Nick Rodriguez

Category: Behind the Scenes