Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Guest Post: "Hiring" Library Pages: The Best Library Publicity You Can “Buy”

I have a wonderful problem.  I have too many students who want to volunteer their time to work in the library...I know!  My heart swells every time I think of it!
Our middle school has an abundance of dedicated and exuberant readers.  They help keep our fiction shelves stocked with all the new releases.  They love to recommend new titles and are constantly stopping in during homeroom or study halls to browse the shelves.  AND they love to sit behind the desk and run the show!  sbb12.JPG

With only two check-out computers, I have more demand for volunteers than I can reasonably staff.  Here is how I make this possible:

·   All volunteers need to apply.  I have a short permission slip that they need to get signed by their parents and homeroom teacher.  I just want to be sure that homeroom time isn’t essential for the student to get their homework done.  Showing initiative that they can get their application back to me is step one.
·   Step two is a short interview with me or our other librarian.  They should be able to articulate why they want to work in the library (and they should not answer "because I want to see what everyone else is reading!").
·   Students who are “hired” are given a day of the week to report for their shift.  Often they will stop in other days too just to see if I might need extra help…how can I say no??  I’ve become very imaginative with these lesser though equally necessary tasks:  make new posters for signage, walk around the school looking for missing books, etc.
  • They need to progress their way up to the circulation desk...with a smile!  If I need them to shelve, they shelve.  If I need them to work crowd control, they roam the stacks.  If I need them to pull books for a teacher collection, they take a cart and hop to it.  Running the circulation desk means they have proven that they are willing and able to do it all.  We also discuss the concept of privacy and our pages prove themselves remarkably trustworthy in this regard.
  • Students need to know that they can get fired.  While I "hire" them and pay with "good kid points," I need them to take their shift seriously and be accountable.  A few no shows without any communication and they will lose their library benefits:  their bonafide library badge with lots of bling, full behind the scenes access to their wonderful library and the opportunity to spend the end of the day in a different environment than the classroom.
Let’s be clear.  This can make for a hectic and busy end to my day but knowing how important this is to the students makes it well worth it.  And sometimes it is absolutely wonderful to step away from the desk and watch my pages shine!

a library page working the desk

Students come into the library and see their fellow classmates manning the circulation desk or shelving books and they are in awe – you work here?  Can I work here too?  And our pages are so excited and proud about their role that they spread the word.  It creates a great library buzz that costs us nothing but means everything in terms of promoting the library as a vibrant and essential place in our school.

Suzanne Dix, Middle and Upper School Librarian | The Seven Hills School, Cincinnati, OH | suzanne.dix@7hills.org


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