|Support staff in the library have many names:
clerks, educational assistants, secretaries, technicians. Each may have
its own set of duties or job descriptions. It's important to determine
what the jobs of each staff member are from the start to avoid conflicts
or jobs left undone.
Most LMS have found that this management requires several steps:
|Develop job titles and descriptions to justify the need for staff if
none exist or they need to be changed
|Recruiting and hiring staff
|If nothing else, the LMS should be involved in determine who
should be hired for the position. This will vary by district based
on staff contractual agreements.
|Sample interview questions for a library media assistant from a
local high school
- Please share any experience you have that you feel is
related to this position
- Describe the clerical and computer skills that you have.
What skills have you learned lately? What type of skills are
you willing to learn?
- Do you like to work on one task at a time until it is done,
or do you like to work at a variety of ongoing tasks during
- Would you rather work on projects given to you by the
librarian, work directly with students, or a combination of
- Why do you want to work in a school library? What is your
comfort level using a library and helping others to find
- When working with students, it is important to develop a
good rapport with them. What are some ways you will do this?
- What type of library "atmosphere" would you feel
comfortable working in? What type of noise level and activity
level do you prefer?
- Describe any experience you have using the Internet.
- How do you feel about hands-on projects such as book repair,
book processing, and creating bulletin board displays?
- You are in the middle of a job when a student comes up to
you and asks for help finding information. What would you do?
- A group of students are being loud and disruptive. How would
you handle the situation?
- A teacher brings in a class to do research, and several
students are reading magazines and joking around rather than
doing their assigned work. How would you handle the situation?
- You finish your list of jobs for the day with several hours
left over. What would you do?
Assigning job responsibilities
|Library skills (e.g., circulation, cataloging, processing,
|Technology skills (e.g., technology problem solving,
applications software, reference tools, Internet searching)
|It is best to work with the entire staff to assign tasks to the
most able person with the agreement of all
|Regular meetings should be held to determine how things are
going, what is getting done, and what motivation is needed.
|Solicit the best ways to accomplish a task from staff members.
|The LMS should also demonstration his/her own willingness to do
Maintaining job satisfaction
|Set standards of performance
|Determine what motivates each individual|
|In many cases, the support staff is evaluated not by the LMS but
by the principal. This means that managing staff must be done
without the evaluation component.
|The LMS may have to assist the administrator in developing
evaluation criteria for support staff or provide data for the
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Many schools create library advisory committees as well as technology
committees. Each has a valuable function and should include the LMS. They
generally include other teachers representative of the overall school
staff and occasionally students and even parents or community members.
They generally advise on policies and sometimes offer suggestions for
selection while also gathering information from other students and staff
and transmitting information from the library back to the staff. Each
school must determine the frequency of meeting and the limitations of
power for these groups.
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In addition to paid support staff , many library media centers use adult
or student volunteers. This has both advantages and disadvantages. On the
plus side, it provides free labor in a time of too many jobs and not
enough time. Volunteers can provide assistance with circulation,
processing, shelving, displays working with students, reading, and many
other tasks. On the negative side there are always problems of training,
attendance, quality of work, confidentiality, and motivation. Each LMS
must determine if volunteers will work for them. Cheryl Ann McCarthy in Volunteers
and Technology: The New Reality ( American Libraries, 27 (6))
outlines some of the aspects to consider when developing an adult
volunteer program. These same guidelines could apply to both public
library and school library media center volunteer programs. She emphasizes
the need to demonstrate that professional staff cannot be replaced by
volunteers before beginning any such program.
Many schools have volunteer coordinators that could be used to solicit
volunteers. One district uses the following form for placing library
Parent Volunteer Form
Please complete this form and return it to the Library Media
Day(s) you are available to volunteer: (Please indicate 1,2,3 for
Times you are available to come to the library media center
|AM and PM|
Grades you prefer to work with:
|Middle school (6-8)
|High school (9-12)|
I would like to (check all that apply)
|read stories to children
|prepare a bulleting board
|type orders, booklist
|assist with computer
|help circulate materials
|other, please specify|
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Student volunteers have always been part of school library programs, but
now they are extending their roles into the technology arena. Some have
students working with network administration at a lower level or assisting
teachers with technology.
With the emphasis on school to work, many districts have instituted
elaborate student "hiring" procedures complete with resumes and
interviews. Some high schools even provide "payment" in the
terms of partial credit for student volunteers.
Again, student workers have many advantages, but running such a program
requires considerable attention and organization. Each LMS must determine
the tradeoffs in his/her situation. Nancy Everhart in "Library
aides: If you fulfill their needs, they will come (and work!)"
Report, 13 (1)), describes how to successfully motivate such aides.
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