Training and Motivation March 18, 2007, 11 a.m. Pane room, Alexander Library, Rutgers University Session Leader Yasmin Saira Session Recorder: Michele Tokar Attendees: 13 total Representation was as follows: Patty Gaspari Bridges Princeton University Shelia Ketchum University of Pennsylvania Robert Cagna University of Pennsylvania John Weynand Harvard Susan Dennis Princeton Theresa Macklin Rutgers Camden Christopher Holobar Penn State Katie Anderson Rutgers Camden Judy Gardner Rutgers New Brunswick Deborah Ceaser New York Public Library Brad Lacey NYU Michele Tokar , Rutgers University New Brunswick Yasmin Saira, Columbia University Yasmin started the session by stating that training was important to both library staff and students She posed several questions about training. The questions asked were:
• What are our expectations regarding training?
The participants stated training staff and training students were two broad issues. The question was posed: “Do you have formal training for students and how do we avoid fast turnover of student employees?” This question generated an in depth conversation regarding students and training, hiring practices, types of, work assigning tasks, and student motivation. The Following points and philosophies were presented: Some Access staff felt that the student’s employment at the library was a stepping-stone into the “real job market, ” and that their work at the libraries should be treated as such. Shelia Ketchum from the University of Pennsylvania said, “but how do you get them to show up since you cannot reward them financially, and how do you get them to Shelf Read? “ Yasmin Saira from Columbia said that about six weeks into the semester, students were quitting and just not showing up. Yasmin stated that during mid term exams and finals, they allowed students to sit at the desk so they could study. They did not require them to do any stack maintenance at this time. Her students were scheduled well in advance so they were prepared as
the semester went along. This type of scheduling and flexibility has helped to improve student retention. The general consensus from all participants was that getting students to shelve and shelf-read could be difficult at any time of year. Michele Tokar from Rutgers New Brunswick said that they hired work-study students with a general posting for all types of library work that included public service and shelving. Students were expected to do both when they were hired. Michele said that over the years she noticed that there were some students that like public service and some that like to shelve. Michele said they were able to accommodate the students’ interest or strong points and address the needs of the library. This led to a discussion about letting students use I Pods when they shelve. John Weynnard from Harvard said that letting students use IPODS helped to improve accuracy. Most participants were in agreement with this. He said he lets students use IPODS in all library work except public service. John said that he handles over 90 students workers. He said he retains many students due to the flexible scheduling he offers. Students can change their hours from week to week, but they must work a certain amount of time. Some students are promoted and these students train newer students. This level of responsibility helps to develop pride in their work. John said he posts jobs online that are very specific about the physical nature of shelving and shelf reading; this way, he gets a motivated pool of applicants from the beginning. He said he thinks it is important to be actively involved and interested in the students themselves. He takes the time to ask how they are doing, what classes they are taking, etc…All staff that work at the library are encouraged to talk and interact with the student workers. John said that he has hired students just for shelf reading and this has worked extremely well. Yasmin said at Columbia they divide the stacks into divisions and one staff member and several students are responsible for one area. Students and staff work together in this one area. This gives a sense of ownership. Deborah Ceasar from NYU said that they hired a combination of work-study, non work-study college students and High School students for shelving and shelf reading. She said this combination worked well. The High School students looked up to the college students as mentors. She said they created a “Blitzed Reading,” at NYU, meaning that they put all the workers in one wing of the stacks for an entire day and they shelf –read. They have found that this system works well. The students shelf-read in pairs. Deborah said they put notes up in the area to let library users know that there will be noise on this floor for the day. This was done on the weekends. Brad Lacey from NYU said that they also hired High school students to shelve during mid-term and final exam periods. Full and part time staff are expected to shelve during really busy times of the year. Some participants said that they hire international students to work during breaks since they cannot go home during that time. Some of the schools hired High school students to work during the summer. The scheduling practices were different for all the libraries. Harvard and NYU assigned students work on a daily basis depending on the needs of the library. At Harvard, the students did not have a set schedule. They were expected to work a certain number of hours each week, but the days and times they worked varied. Judy Gardner from Rutgers University Libraries noted the different styles and said perhaps Harvard or NYU’s scheduling style was more progressive and offered more flexibility.
Deborah from NYU said the “old school” philosophy did not work for their library. She said flexibility was key and that schoolwork always takes precedence. Susan Dennis from Princeton said that one could be flexible with scheduling depending on what type of work you were hiring for. You could be more flexible with shelving or Shelf-reading work assignments/scheduling but you could not do the same with public service assignments. Susan said they advertise different jobs in the library as “sitting” or “standing.” Students can apply for the kind of work they believe they are good at. This makes the hiring process straightforward. They get good results with this. Columbia and Princeton said they had set up list-servs for the students. The students were responsible to get coverage for their own shifts. This has worked very well. Patty Gaspari-Brideges from Princeton said that she manages 5 braches. Students are hired for regular shifts for the entire semester. Students are expected to get other students to cover their shift if they cannot make it in. Students use a list-serv to communicate with each other. This has worked well at Princeton. Michele Tokar from Rutgers University Libraries New Brunswick said they have set schedules for students as well. If students call out, they are expected to call out as far in advance as possible so that staff may find coverage if need be. The question was asked “what do you do when students do not show up for work during exams?” Katie Anderson, from Rutgers University Libraries Camden said that during exams students were asked to continue working, but to show up when they could. The students did not have to commit to a certain time or day, but they were expected to come in and shelve a cart for an hour or so during the exam period. This works well for Camden especially since they are mainly a commuter campus. Katie has given all the students wallet sized cards with library telephone numbers should they need to call out. John Weyand from Harvard said that students were required to work a minimum of 4 hours a week during exam period. Again, the students did not have to commit to a certain day or time, but they were expected to work. If students did not work they would lose their job with the libraries. When students sign up to work they are told that working during finals is a prerequisite for the job. The question was asked: “ Has anyone been successful in organizing group training for students?” Some schools said they had tried group training but it was very hard to do because of class schedules. Most Libraries said they trained students one at a time. The question was asked, “Why does it take so long to train students. What are you asking your students to know at the Circulation desk?” Nearly all of the libraries representatives said they require students to know the basics at the circulation desk. This includes Charge/Discharge. They are also expected to know how to search the libraries online catalogue and answer directional questions such as where another library is and how late the library is open until. Most students know when to get a supervisor for help. The libraries said they had different methods for training students including in person and through the use of online documentation such as PowerPoint. Some libraries used desktop tools to provide information for students. John Weyand from Harvard said he could e-mail his extensive training documentation to anyone who would like to see it.
Staff agreed that an important part of training was to make students feel important and that their contributions to the library were valuable.
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