Wednesday, February 17, 2010

One of the Most Valuable Assets in the Library...

They’re right in front of you. You see them almost everyday. They hold so much value and knowledge. But have you tapped into them lately?

What I’m talking about is my student aides. I have a tried, true and trusted library assistant who, without her, my schedule and professional life would begin to frazzle, but it’s the students aides who help me and the library staff who make such a difference for me as a librarian. Let me introduce you to some of them.

The first one I automatically think of is the high GPA, top 40 in her class, academic girl. I just love her because of her motivation and her hugs she gives me everyday she walks in. This is a girl on her toes, involved in community service and linked to the “smart” kids at school. What’s your value potential? She’s my gauge of how the academic databases and the library webpage are being used – the good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful. And I use this group’s suggestions to start modifying (example: see how I redid my library webpage for easier research usage)

The next one on the list is one of two guys that works with us. Actually, he requested to work in the library, which is one of the most sought-after student aide positions in the school, and let me tell you, looks can be deceiving. He’s been in the gang scene and is now out of it. But surprisingly, he is a hard worker. His value? It’s the inside look at what motivates him to do better in school, what books appeal to his reluctant reader side, how to get those students who aren’t the academic nose-in-the-book student to use the library. Books get bounced off of him to let me know if it’s true to form or swagger. He connects me to those who may never get the connection.

Another student that pops to mind is my book loving, poetry reader, skater and jerking (if you don’t know this dance craze, get ready!!) other guy. He’s the lover…the sensitive one, the one the girls like and the one who’s not afraid to stand out. He doesn’t look like your typical reader, and he doesn’t read the typical YA books. But he is invaluable to me because not only does he keep me aware of trends in the teen culture, but he also lets me know the holes in the section I least read (poetry) and his personal review on poetry books I’ve purchased. This is a bright teen, both academically and socially, and he just makes me smile.

Last of all (I wish I could give homage to all of my aides, but it would be a looooong blog – I have 10!!) would be my athlete. She’s definitely a lover of books, especially teen romance, but more than that she’s a proliferate reader. Get her together with any other student and she’s recommending books left and right. Her goal? To read all the books I’ve booktalked as well as the one sitting in my office. She just got a full-ride volleyball scholarship to a prestigious part of a Texas university whose colors are maroon and white. She’s that conundrum…an athlete that reads? Yes, and she brings in the other ones too because of her role as athlete in this school.

Okay, one more! She’s my band student, but not just a band student, but a girl who has an active high school life, including a boyfriend she’s dated for more than two years ( a record in high school!) and lots of friends. Although she plays an instrument, she isn’t a instrument-carrying marcher, but works the field with the rifle corps. What’s her value? That this is a girl who peruses the shelves and puts back the books, but doesn’t read too often? She’s the one that I have to capture and find ways to capture, and when it happens – it happens quickly and the reading begins. Then it’s onto trying to get her involved in another book. She keeps me on my toes and I try out all my trailers on her in the hope that she’ll pick up the book to read, which she does….

So there you have it. Look at the value in your library. Put them to work for you without letting them know. Create those relationships, and you would be amazed at how fast that one relationship will spread with others. Teens talk about their teachers, including their librarians. What do you think they say about you when you’re not around….?


Sue Fitzgerald said...

I just moved to the DFW area from SC and left behind a wonderful group of student helpers in my high school library - maybe they will train the new librarians. These young adults were so awesome.

Sue Fitzgerald said...

I had an incredible group of student helpers that I left behind in SC. They too were an awesome group of students that were an asset to our high school probram.

AliB said...

Thank you for sharing this. I am in my first year as a librarian for grades 7-12 and have not yet developed a student aide program. In reading your descriptions, I saw many of my own students-- so much potential to be tapped!

sandraca said...

Thanks Naomi for posting a note about this topic to LM_NET. I am guilty of neglecting to make use of my student aides as I should. You are right, they are a wonderful resource, some great readers, some, not-so-much. I will try to get more feedback from them the rest of the year.

naomibates said...

It's so often I overlook them as this an epiphany. And when I showed them what I wrote about them, I let them know that even though I may not be sitting at the circ desk with them everyday, I still watch, listen and learn.
The beamed when they saw what I wrote about them. So if you have some, write about them and share it. A few words go a long way!! : )

Jennifer said...

Don't leave out us public librarians! I am in a small library and my department is me and one aide - lucky me, I started out with a high school student and continue the tradition! Great connections to the high school and a good way to pass info. on to teens.

Allison said...

Thanks Mrs.Bates :) I told my mom about you and showed her your blog. She now thinks that you are wonderful :) Love you!