What to do with Student Aides

The first year I was librarian, I had high school aides who couldn’t do much more than shelve my “E” books for me. I had a challenge that year to keep them busy. With a lot of teaching, re-teaching, and supervising, I was able to find more tasks for them to do.

I just completed my fourth year in a K-12 library and have a long list of tasks for my student aides. Generally speaking, they are either juniors or seniors with an empty slot in their schedule. The first thing I teach my aides to do is shelve books – it is a daily task for them. One of my goals for this summer is to create training videos for them on this and other tasks. The Dewey Decimal System is a challenge for them at times. My most popular sections are always a mess, but I am confident that with better training on my part it can improve.

One of the easiest tasks for my aides is making copies. I need copies weekly for my elementary classes. I also need copies made of fliers to promote the different fundraisers and activities sponsored by the library. If it is promotional material, the aides also take care of distribution to the classes. I realize many librarians like to do these tasks themselves, but without an adult aide, I am tied to the library most days. So I am thankful my aides can take care of it for me.

Another thing I have my aides do on a regular basis is pull requested books. When I get requests from teachers, need a stack of books for instructional purposes, or even the books I am planning on reading to the elementary classes, I have my aides pull them from the shelves. I don’t think they enjoy this task much because they know they’ll have to put them all back on the shelf for me later.

Another task they aren’t fond of is cleaning. The school maintenance staff takes care of the floor, but I am responsible for all other cleaning. Twice a week, the aides wipe down the tables and chairs as well as clean out the computer carrels. They also periodically dust the shelves.

Each of the tables in the library has a basket of supplies: pencils, highlighters, white-out, glue sticks, a plastic box of crayons, and a plastic box of scissors. Weekly I have the aides sharpen the pencils, replace erasers if necessary, and replenish any items that have “disappeared.”

I occasionally receive a box of books to be donated to the library. When I do the first thing is to determine if we already have the titles in our system. My aides are responsible for checking each title against our catalog. If  they are duplicates, I set them aside for our used book sale. If not, they go on my stack to be evaluated.

One of the easiest tasks I give to my aides, which I need to supervise at first, is processing books. Once the books are cataloged, I print out the barcodes and spine labels. The aides are then responsible for stamping the books and placing the labels in the proper position.

I think one of the favorite jobs is decorating. I have a window which goes from the library into the hall. I have used this window for a variety of things, which are changed every month or so. One year I picked a profession each month, usually based on some special day that month, and honored our parents and alumni who serve in that profession. Another year I listed some of the special days of the month. This past year I listed the names and birthdays of the students and staff born each month along with the birthdays of children’s book authors and illustrators. My aides were responsible for cutting the sheets apart after I print them out and taping them to the window after taking down the previous month’s display.

Another decorating task my aides enjoyed was decorating the door. They enjoy getting on Pinterest to find ideas. It would usually take them a week or more of class time to complete a door.

We have a large number of books in our catalog without prices. This past year when I didn’t have other projects for them, my aides spent time looking up book prices on Amazon. I was then able to update our catalog with the information.

I am very thankful for my aides. Since that first year, I have had capable students, not just students who needed to fill a slot on their schedule.

I’d love to hear what your aides do for you. Just comment below.