Student librarians provide valuable input into library development, and raise the profile of the library among their peers. Their involvement:
Recruiting and selecting your librarians
Student librarians are volunteers selected by the teacher with library responsibility (TLR), or other library staff. They become part of your library staff and contribute to the effective running of the library. Getting them on board should be treated with appropriate gravity.
A formal recruitment and selection process:
- demonstrates fairness
- raises the profile of the library
- gives status to the role of student librarian
- gives students experience with job application processes.
For the recruitment process, you will need to prepare:
- a job description
- an application form
- a letter of appointment (or encouragement to reapply next time).
Student librarian job description – template (docx, 106KB)
Student librarian application form (docx, 107KB)
Before recruiting students, figure out:
- the number of students you need, and whether to keep a waiting list of keen students
- suitable year levels
- their tasks and responsibilities
- selection criteria – the skills, qualities, and attitudes needed (include these in the job description and application form)
- who will be responsible for training and supervision
- which part of the school day will be rostered: before/during/after school, interval, lunchtime
- status and awards such as badges of responsibility, leadership roles, and any rewards or privileges you will offer
- a training programme – check with other schools in your library network for examples of existing programmes.
Student librarians' training levels and awards (docx, 108KB)
Start recruiting by promoting the student librarian programme to appropriate year levels, teachers and syndicate leaders. Give copies of the job description and application form to staff and interested students.
Developing a training programme
A skills-based and age-appropriate training programme is essential.
- Consider having a trial and review period. This lets you and the student both decide if there is a good fit, and make a decision whether to continue.
- Training modules are effective, allowing students to build up defined levels of skills, achieving rewards and acknowledgment as they work.
- Design appropriate activities to allow you to measure a student’s skill level and achievement in each area.
- Plan a training programme that attracts students, and maintains their interest.
- Be clear about what will be a sustainable level of input from library staff.
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
- a list of daily duties they'll be doing for your school library
- the training levels presented as an awards programme.
To get started, here are some areas of responsibility and tasks you can include in your training programme.
Know the library layout and where different sections are located, using standard systems for organising the collection.
- Arrange books on shelves from left to right, top to bottom, bay-by-bay.
- Follow numerical and alphabetical order of different sections.
- Keep shelves up to 3/4 full and incorporate face-out display of attractive books.
- Make sure shelves stay tidy throughout the day.
- Be able to issue and return library items.
- Know how to handle reservations, overdues, and loan limits.
- Put books needing repair aside for mending.
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.
Know about the upkeep of the library environment.
- Keep tables and chairs and cushions neatly arranged.
- Turn lights, heaters, and computers on and off.
- Open and close windows, curtains, and blinds.
- Clean shelves, books, computers, and furniture in suitable ways.
- Look after plants and pets, such as fish or birds.
Helping library users
Be able to help users:
- locate items using the library catalogue
- locate items on the shelf using Dewey for non-fiction, and the alphabet for fiction
- use search engines to locate suitable websites.
Know how to interact positively with library users by:
- using open questions
- making eye contact and smiling
- taking the initiative to help.
Learn about ways to promote the library, its collection, and services:
- Create displays based on an author, theme or event.
- Contribute reviews and recommendations to a library newsletter, blog, or library webpage.
- Talk about good reads in class, during a visit to the library, or at assembly.
- Do buddy reading with peers or juniors.
- Create book trailers, slideshows, and book-related images and videos.
- Help run library competitions and events, like quizzes, author visits, book week, and book fairs.
- Act as a library guide for visitors to the school.
Help library staff to select library resources by:
- recommending book and magazine titles
- keeping a suggestions book
- surveying users for ideas.
Use ICT skills to assist library staff and users with:
- internet use, such as finding suitable websites to meet student requests
- managing their digital footprint, including knowledge of the school’s Acceptable Use Policy
- using the computers, photocopier, printer, and other hardware
- adhering to copyright and copying limits.
Rewarding your student librarians
Student librarians deserve acknowledgement and rewards for their important contribution to the library. Integrate these rewards with existing school systems for acknowledging community service. Remember to include rewards for student librarians in the library budget.
- explicit acknowledgement and positive reinforcement from the principal and teaching staff, as well as the TLR and library staff
- student librarians’ names, photos, and short biographies with their reading favourites displayed in the library
- identifying team name, clothing or accessories, such as t-shirts, caps, badges, or sashes
- end of year certificates or awards, and ongoing small awards such as Librarian of the Week
- a party or outing at the end of the term or year
- borrowing privileges
- involvement in special library activities and promotions
- use of library workroom facilities, so they can eat their lunch or make hot drinks
- opportunities to help select books.
Managing your student librarian team
- Create clearly defined tasks and simple, straightforward workflows.
- Organise flexible rosters and share tasks equally.
- Ensure there is ongoing supervision by teachers or library staff.
- Schedule training time.
- Timetable regular meetings with the TLR, librarian, and the library staff to let student librarians discuss activities, make suggestions, and raise any issues.
- Schedule a regular review and update of the student librarian programme.
- File all documentation about student librarians with other school library documentation.
Student librarian tasks – primary school example (docx, 106KB)
Student librarian tasks – secondary school example (docx, 106KB)