Skip to main content
site header image

Student Worker Handbook: General Expectations

What you need to know to excel as a library assistant

Be prepared to work during your shift.

  •  ‚ÄčDo NOT expect to have study time while you are at work.
  • Library work must always be done before studying. 
  • There are jobs assigned to each shift.  Please be sure to check the web page for those assignments.
  • If there is no apparent project and all of your assigned tasks are done, ask the library staff if they have projects for you. 
  • Special projects may be assigned by various librarians based on availability of student workers.  Please take these tasks seriously and do them well.

Dress Appropriately

“Reach up high and touch your toes, if anything shows go change your clothes!”

The library is a professional working area that is often visited by guests of our campus, the general public, alumni, trustees, and prospective students as well as their parents.  Refer to the “Dress Code” section of this handbook for a description of appropriate working attire. 

Handling of Money

Any cash transactions must be handled by the library staff, if a student comes needing to handle any form of cash transaction, contact the library staff immediately.

Maintain A Good Attitude

All of the staff in the library function as a team. The full-time staff members do whatever is needed and help each other out. The same is expected of student workers – help each other and help the full-time staff. 

  • Your attitude is a key to teamwork. 
  • Demonstrate willingness to do whatever is asked of you, even if it is something you dislike. 
  • Treat your colleagues respectfully.  The student staff and the full-time staff are your colleagues.
  • If you are frustrated by someone or something at work, find a constructive way to address the issue.  

Basic Job Description

  1. Behave and dress in a professional manner at all times.
  2. Customer service is the main focus.
  3. Follow staff directions.
  4. Maintain confidentiality.
  5. Communicate with your supervisor and fellow workers.
  6. Maintain a positive attitude.
  7. Take Initiative to do what needs to be done.
  8. Be prepared to work.


It is never acceptable to divulge who has checked out an item.  If someone thinks they need this kind of information, ask a staff member for assistance. There are ways to assist with locating material that do not break confidentiality. Other personal information in a patron’s record is private as well. You may not access patron records to look up a phone number, e-mail, or address. This is a legal issue, not just a SWU policy.  Breaking this policy may result in loss of your job.

Patrons First

  • You are often the only library staff member with whom a patron may interact.      
  • Smile and be friendly.  Acknowledge everyone who enters the building. Think of it as a “Welcome to Moe’s” attitude.
  • Ask if they found what they needed. 
  • Refer them to a librarian if they could not find what they needed, or when you know you cannot help them find what they need, but answer when you can with confidence.
    • This includes all reference related questions.
  • When you are shelving, keep an eye out for library users who need assistance finding an item or a location.
  • Help wherever and whenever possible. Be looking for ways to offer help to patrons.
  • Do not wear earphones, earbuds, or headphones while you are working.
  • It is OK to greet your friends and chat a bit; however, you must:
    • not have extensive conversations with friends at the circulation desk or while you are shelving.
    • always appear to be available to others, including shy patrons who may not feel comfortable interrupting a conversation. 
    • stop personal conversations with other staff as soon as someone approaches the desk for assistance.
    • avoid gathering a crowd at the desk.
    • ONLY staff and fellow on duty student workers are allowed to sit behind the desk.  The desk is not a hang-out zone. Remember that you are at work and friends should not come and just hang out with you.  


  • Tell someone when you are leaving. 
  • If you are the only one at the desk, inform a staff member that your shift is about to end so that someone else can staff the desk after you leave. 
  • Be sure to let Ms. Jenn, or a staff member, know when you are leaving or where you will be working in the library if you are not going to be at the front desk.  Be sure there is someone to cover the front desk if you need to work elsewhere.
  • If something isn’t working well or there is a problem, discuss the matter with Ms. Jenn before you get frustrated or angry.
  • If you need to leave a note for a member of the library staff, be sure to include date, time, your name, and any other information such as patrons or others who need to be contacted. It is vital that notes are detailed in case questions arise.

Behave Professionally

  • You are the public face of the library when you work at the desk. 
  • What you do shapes your fellow students’ perception of the library. 
  • Always be courteous, respectful, and professional in the way you act and speak.
  • Do not hesitate to be helpful to individuals entering the library.

Follow ALL Staff Direction

Ms. Jenn serves as your direct supervisor for purposes of work-study: assigning schedules, signing timesheets, and directing responsibilities. However, you work for the entire library staff.  You should treat all librarians and staff members as your boss.

  • Be prepared to accept responsibility for any assigned projects. 
  • Be sure to communicate if you are being asked to perform more than one task. 
  • The library staff will assign priority to the appropriate projects.

Take Initiative

If you see something that needs to be done, and you know how to do it or have an idea of how to contribute, do it.  If you have ideas on how something can be done more effectively, talk to Ms. Jenn.  We encourage you to use your gifts and talents for the betterment of the library. Ask yourself: “How can I make the library’s services better today?”  

Eating At Work

  • In general, student workers should not plan to eat while on duty.
  • However, a bottled drink (water bottles or coffee cup are allowed) is acceptable while at the desk. Please keep water away from the computer and library materials.  Make sure that the drink is in a sealable container so that it will not spill.  If you have open containers you will be asked to take them to the breakroom.
  • Student workers should not have meals while on duty. If you need to eat, you should sign out.  You may also come early and eat in the staff breakroom if your shift is near a meal time.
  • Occasional snacks are allowed, but this should not be a habit.