Last year we resurrected our student librarian internship programme. It had died off due to the numerous changes in the CAS (Creativity, Activity and Service, part of the core of the IB Diploma) programme about five years ago. With new CAS programme leaders and a renewed focus which allowed for in school service we decided, we would bring it back – with great success.
The hardest place to serve is in your own school.
What makes for a successful student librarian programme? Well apart from the enthusiastic students there are some key elements that we have discovered and research also confirms.
- Ask students to apply (Braxton, McGown, Sproul). We have an application form which includes questions about why the student has applied and what they feel they can bring to the role.
- Give a job description and make your expectations of the students very clear (Braxton, McGown, Sproul). Our job description is very generic but now I have read the articles cited below I have decided to add the need of commitment, reliability, cooperation, responsibility, trust and work ethic (Braxton).
- Provide training (Braxton, McGown, Sproul). We have a 90 minute training session after school. We did try on the job training but it was very ad hoc and not as effective as training the students. Braxton suggests having levels of achievement within a training and student librarianship programme and have the students track their own progress.
- Change up the tasks the students are required to do each week. We have four key roles and the students rotate through those roles.
- Have experienced students lead team and help to train the new students (Braxton, Sproul)
- Celebrate the successes and show appreciation for their efforts (Sproul). We find actually closing the library and ‘breaking’ the rules of no food with a pizza lunch or coffee and cake are all much appreciated by our student librarians.
Below are some helpful articles and websites I have found. Some of them are about adult volunteers as well.
Barack, Lauren. “Are There Any Volunteers?: A Pain-Free Approach to Getting the Very Best out of Parents.” School Library Journal, vol. 56, no. 12, Dec. 2010, pp. 40–43. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eric&AN=EJ922995&site=ehost-live.
Braxton, Barbara. “Make Your Load Lighter with STARS.” Teacher Librarian, vol. 32, no. 5, June 2005. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eric&AN=EJ728077&site=ehost-live.
Lincoln, Margaret. “Information Literacy: An Online Course for Student Library Assistants.” School Library Media Activities Monthly, vol. 25, no. 10, June 2009, pp. 29–30. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eric&AN=EJ840834&site=ehost-live.
McGown, Sue W. “Valuable Volunteers: How to Find, Use, and Keep Them.” Library Media Connection, vol. 26, no. 2, Oct. 2007, pp. 10–13. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eric&AN=EJ776631&site=ehost-live.
Snyder, Beth. “Recruiting Library Volunteers.” Library Media Connection, vol. 28, no. 1, Jan. 2009, pp. 22–23. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eric&AN=EJ857455&site=ehost-live.
Sproul, Betty. “Implementing a Library Helper Program Is Easy, Economical, and Energizing.” Library Media Connection, vol. 24, no. 7, Jan. 2006, p. 44. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eric&AN=EJ762332&site=ehost-live.
“Student librarians.” National Library of New Zealand, natlib.govt.nz/schools/school-libraries/leading-and-managing/managing-your-school-library-staff/student-librarians. Accessed 18 Feb. 2019.