The Johnson Elementary School library is a place for students to read and learn, but it’s also a place that they come to relax and spend time with their classmates and peers. The library has become a gathering place where students share reviews and recommendations, personal stories, and thoughts and feelings about books and technology. Because of the high levels of traffic that we get in the library, especially during free checkout time, many students ask if they can act as library helpers to keep lines short and shelves stocked.
I love having helpers in the library, and responsible and determined students are an excellent resource in organizing, cleaning up, shelving, straightening, and keeping the library at its best. However, at times, the number of helpers can be greater than the jobs that need to be done! I do my best to assign students specific jobs, but the task can get overwhelming. When student volunteers don’t have direction, it can lead to issues; hurt feelings, losing track of time, or even disciplinary problems. So this week, I created Library Helpers sticks to help volunteers choose jobs, stay efficient, and feel like the integral part of the library that they are.
Students interested in volunteering in the library can ask for permission to take a stick from the Library Helper Can. Sticking out from the top, they can see the basic Library Helper directions: pick a stick, do your best, leave the rest, and see you soon. These directions remind students to choose one job, do their best to complete it, and leave the other jobs for other volunteers to finish. I sometimes get volunteers that are so excited, they want to complete all of the necessary work…but I like it best when everyone can participate!
The can holds six Library Helper Sticks. On the front of each stick is a job in bold red print. Students can then turn the stick over and read the job description, written in blue on the back. Students leave their stick on the circulation desk as complete their job. Some jobs have a specific amount of time, while others direct the student to work until their task is completed. Once they are finished, they put their stick back in the can and head back to class. If the can is empty, then the library volunteer list is full, and students can come back another time to help.
Library jobs in the helper can include Craft Captain, Graphic Novel Guide, Laptop Leader, Story Pit Pro, Fantastic Fiction Fixer, and Check-Out Chief. Each stick provides a volunteer with an independent and critical job to help the library run smoothly. Many of these jobs will need to be completed multiple times per day, maximizing the number of student volunteers that we can see every week.
I look forward to implementing this more streamlined and organized volunteer system with the students when they return next week. I hope to give as many students as possible the chance to help in the library. My goal is to have a library that feels like it is run for students and with students, allowing as much interaction and responsibility with library materials and procedures as possible.
If you are a parent or family member looking to volunteer in the Johnson Elementary School Library, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to have you!