SC State funding to colleges was cut 22% in ‘09 CCU’s budget sustained a 31.5% reduction At the same time, enrollment was still increasing! In 1999, CCU had 4,000 students, and in 2009, CCU has over 8,000 students – doubling in size in only ten years! Meanwhile, we still have the exact same number of librarian positions as we did in 1999, with no increases in sight…
Reference Librarians = 6 Additional Reference Staff = 1 full-time person + 1 part-time person CCU Student Body = 8,165 people Faculty & Staff =
starting small … Hired 6 Reference Student Assistant’s (RSAs) & 1 Reference office Intern Kimbel Library provided reference for 90.5 hours/week total and the RSAs worked 44 of these hours No RSAs after 7pm (reference avail. until 2am) 1 service point (Reference Desk only), and no electronic reference Tiered system – students were the first tier, with a librarian always on duty as the second tier
GOING BIG… Hired 21 RSAs (ended up with 18 RSAs), providing reference for all 90.5 hours. RSAs work all hours between 8am-Midnight. 2 service points (Java City + Reference Desk) Addition of electronic reference (chat reference) Continued to use the model of students as the first tier and a reference librarian always on duty as the 2 nd tier.
Quality of service Professional Identity Who would interview, hire, and train all these new student assistants?
Could student assistants do as good of a job at reference as librarians?
Students were very motivated to help other students. Students worked hard on their training because they didn’t want to be embarrassed in front of their peers or let them down when they needed help. Students also recognized they were learning something valuable that would benefit them. Students could quickly recognize when to refer a question for “expert help” from the librarians and when to try to answer it on their own.
Why did we go to library school? Are we still reference librarians if we don’t sit at the reference desk? Will this take away our job security? Will this take away the part of our jobs that we considered the most fun?
Being the 2nd tier of reference left librarians more time for individual research consultations with students, as well as other projects. Librarians were able to concentrate on the questions that were “fun” for us, because students handled all of the directional and most of the technological questions. Librarians enjoyed training students to do reference, and students seemed to enjoy working with librarians to learn research skills.
Would this really save us any time, or would it just make more work? Would there be enough work for the students to do, besides answering questions, so they aren’t bored or on Facebook all the time?
The project was more work intensive at the beginning—the initial time commitment of the reference librarians to training was large – but it paid off after the first two-three weeks of school when students were well-trained. Librarians had to learn to look at their work differently. We learned to see smaller projects and steps of larger projects that we could outsource to students, and students enjoyed the variety of work.
We were able to get a lot of advice from our Access Services Department on best practices for interviewing student assistants, and how the student hiring process works at CCU, so we didn’t have to reinvent everything. Even though it was all new to us, it wasn’t all new to Kimbel Library.
Upperclassmen have already been through library instruction for English 101 and have completed the library tutorial. They already have research skills that the library can use. They have done research for classes and understand what Professors are looking for in research assignments.
Interest Survey We created an interest survey for our students to fill out in order for us to help in project distribution.
Training We created a checklist to provide uniform training. Students were responsible for checking off items as they felt they learned them.
How do you keep track of 18 people and two service points at once???
Communication In-boxes for each student Wiki in Spring 2009 Changed to Blackboard in Fall 2009
A Librarians’ Perspective… Students have insider knowledge about Classes, Assignments, Faculty, Technology, etc. Students know other students and naturally act as ambassadors for the library. Students are more approachable to their peers. If students are the first tier of reference, then Librarians suddenly have more time for other duties.
A RSAs Perspective… Improved research, communication, and real world problem solving skills. Well paid job competitive with local employers. On campus job helps them to make campus connections. Opportunities for creativity and initiative.
Talk to other departments that hire and train student workers. How do they do it? What tips can they offer you? Find out the proper procedures for hiring student workers at your institution Find out what work study money is available at your institution, too.
Think about the skills you are looking for and the talents your students probably already have—don’t be afraid to dream big! Think about your unfinished projects lists and consider students who would have the abilities to take on these projects!
YES!!!!!!! All departments benefited Collection Management Refresher for Reference Office Circulation (1 less service point)
Our article on this topic will appear in the special theme issue of Issue of Reference Services Review Title: Peer reference redefined: new uses for undergraduate students.
For Presentation and Handouts please visit: http://www.coastal.edu/library/presentations/index.html Interest Survey RSA responsibilities “What to do when there’s nothing to do” List Training Checklist More resources on Peer Reference Examples of Reference Student Assistant Work Research Guide Microbiology http://libguides.coastal.edu/microbiology Pulp & Pixels newsletter http://ww2.coastal.edu/pulpandpixels/