Related product Collections Management

Communicating the Value of Preservation - Student Worker Training

Melanie R. Schoenborn, Binding and Processing Manager, Book Conservator, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

Student workers are on the front lines and behind the scenes in all types of college and research libraries in Illinois. Within many libraries, student workers process new and reserve materials, relabel, reprocess, and shelve. They are circulation attendants, computer maintenance personnel, and other hands-on workers as needed within their institutions on a daily basis. Much of the work student workers do is repetitive. Knowing how to handle different types of material as well as knowing when something needs preservation care is something that can be taught and learned. Training student workers in preservation processes can help extend the life of library materials thereby reducing costs for replacements and in turn shows the value of their work.

Many articles from the “Communicating the Value of Preservation”  Project include online resources that answer what, how, who and when to preserve all types of library materials. Since student workers in our consortium are college students, it behooves their supervisors to share throughout the academic year the preservation of e-resources, the how to manuals and the many webinars that are available with their student employees. Student workers will also gain additional knowledge on how to handle library materials during their everyday operations and when assisting with special projects.

Over the past twenty-five years, many of my student workers have watched videos and participated in webinars to learn how to care for materials, and, for example, searched the web to identify how to handle unusual tasks such as binding or sewing a book or music score. They have participated in disaster cleanups from small storage leaks to more extensive damage of full shelving units contaminated with sewer water. They have learned through their training and work experience many of the processes in determining the value of the library resources, and I have in turn communicated to them the value of their preservation work. Developing their training included many planning sessions, writing step-by-step manuals, searching the web for instructional videos, and updating processes through peer-training and work shadowing. Reading academic library research, surveys, and studies has helped staff keep the training up-to-date and useful.

Learning the proper way to handle all types of library materials has been taught through accessing online manuals, guides, and websites or through online videos along with many hours of peer-training and work shadowing. Many simple book repairs have been completed with very few essential repair tools and following step-by-step repair manuals or videos thereby adding to the value of the collection and value of their work. Training student workers the proper way to do necessary preservation has helped teach them the value of their resources and therefore the value of their work.  Keeping student workers informed of their value as employees is essential in all academic libraries.  

References and Additional Resources

Becker-Redd, K; Lee, K.; Shelton, C. “Training Student Workers for Cross-Departmental Success in an Academic Library: A New Model.” Journal of Library Administration. 58, no. 2 (Feb. 2018): 153-165.

Charles, L.; Lotts, M.; Todorinova, L. “A Survey of the Value of Library Employment to the Undergraduate Experience.” Journal of Library Administration. 57, no. 1 (Jan. 2017): 1-16.

Chouteau, C., Heinzman, M. “Gone Fishing: Using the FISH! Business Model to Motivate Student Workers.” Technical Services Quarterly. 24, no. 3, (Jan 2007):  41-49.

Comer, A. “Searching for Solutions Supervising Student Employees.” Journal of Access Services. 1, no. 4 (Oct. 2003): 103-113.

Connell, R., Mileham, P. “Student Assistant Training in a Small Academic Library.” Public Services Quarterly. 2, no. 2/3, (Apr. 2006): 69-83.

Cottrell, T.; Bell, B.  “Library Savings through Student Labor.” Bottom Line: Managing Library Finances. 28, no. 3 (July 2015): 82-86.

Draper, L.; Oswald, T.; Renfro, M.  “Student Workers: Cross Training in the Academic Environment." Journal of Access Services. 5, no. ½ (Jan. 2008): 133-137.

Epstein, Carmen.  “Using Blackboard for Training and Communicating with Student Employees.”  College and Undergraduate Libraries.  10, no. 1, (2003): 21-25.

Gregory, D. “The Evolving Role of Student Employees in Academic Libraries.” Journal of Library Administration. 21, no.3/4 (1995): 3.

Guerrero, T. S.; Corey, K. M. “Training and retaining Student Employees: A Case Study at Purdue University Calumet.” Journal of Access Services. 1, no. 4 (Oct. 2003): 97-102.

Hackbart-Dean, P. “Managing Processing Staff: Hiring, Training and Retraining.” Provenance: The Journal Of The Society of Georgia Archivists. 30 (January 2012): 28-47.

Kohler, J. “Training Engaged Student Employees: A Small College Library Experience.” College and Undergraduate Libraries. 23, no. 4 (Oct. 2016): 363-380.

Logan, F. “Student Workers: Essential Partners in the Twenty-First Century Academic Library. Public Services Quarterly. 8, no. 4 (Oct. 2012): 316-325.

Martinez, S. “Training Technical Services’ Student Employees Well: Evidence-based Training Techniques in Conjunction with Coaching and Mentoring Strategies.”  Cataloging and Classification Quarterly. 52, no. 5 (July 2014): 551-561.

Melilli, A.; Mitola, R.; Hunsaker, A. “Contributing to the Library Student Employee Experience: Perceptions of a Student Development Program.” Journal of Academic Librarianship. 42, no. 4 (July 2016):430-437.

Mestre, Lori S; LeCrone, J. M. “Elevating the Student Assistant: An Integrated Development Program for Student Library Assistants.” College & Undergraduate Libraries. 22 no. 1 (Mar. 2015): 1-20.

Rinio, Tyson. "Starting a Book Repair Program From Scratch: The Book Repair Program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Rasmuson Library." Technical Services Quarterly.  Vol. 32, no. 1, pages 1-13, Jan 2015.

Sanderson, D. R. “No Task is Unimportant: Working with High School Students in the Archives.” Journal For The Society of North Carolina Archivists. 6, no. 2 (Winter 2009): 92-98.

Sterling, L. “Books not Burgers: Six Highly Effective Ways to Motivate and Retain Library Student Employees.” Journal of Access Services. 12, no. ¾ (July 2015): 118-127.

Walton, G. “University Libraries and Student Engagement.”  New Review of Academic Librarianship. 117 (Nov. 2010)

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