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Thanks to all the folks who sent me their ideas (all offlist –
hooray!) for working with multiple student aides every class period in
the high school library: Vicki (NY), Sarah, Kathleen (CA), Harriet
(VA), Rachelle (MI), Raynette, Judi (MI), Jean, Emily (KS), Corby
(TX), Katherine (UT), Amanda (TX), Robert (NC), Beverly (TX), Susan
(ND), Ann (MN), Robin (NC).

My friend is thrilled to have so many ideas and such a lot of support.
She will be “visiting” with the principal and counselors soon to see
what she can do about this, armed with your good suggestions. Indeed,
LM_NETters are the helpfullest people on earth!!
Original post: on behalf of a friend who knows that folks in her
district follow LM_NET. Please respond to me OFF LIST and I will post
a HIT for all of us:
"I went to my "new" school yesterday to check out the high school
library, serving about 700 students grades 9-12. I found out that in
the library, I will have a full time assistant plus 6-10 student
library aides PER PERIOD (apparently they have run out of classes or
room in the classes so they just "stick" them in the library)!
      I will be fully responsible for keeping the students busy and
providing grades for them - no study hall component. This year there
has only been the assistant in the library (no librarian), and she
basically makes them straighten the shelves, and then they just sit
there. She said she's had a ton of behavior problems (of course – you
can't expect students to just sit - they need to be busy).
    I am going to talk to the principal and counselors about this,
because I foresee a nightmare with that many idle students. If I have
to have that many, I am going to make a syllabus, have a social
contract, and have daily, weekly, and monthly assignments; basically,
I'm going to treat it like a class.
     I've been researching ideas for what to do with them, and I have
thought of read a book per 6 weeks and make a book trailer, poster,
and/or booktalk, shelve books, clean, etc. etc., but I'm worried this
won't be enough. Do you have any suggestions?? Do you have multiple
student aides each class period? Do you provide a syllabus and/or
quizzes over Dewey?? Any advice you give is appreciated. I have
searched SLDirectory and LM_NET archives."

Curriculum at
You have the same enrollment as I do. - And, 2 students aides during a
period is one too many! Before I'd agree to anything, I'd have a frank
sit down with the counselors and principal. This would require an
enormous chunk of your time. It's like you're a Den mother to Cub
Scouts all day and have to come up with creative projects every

If you were a classroom teacher, how many preps would you have? I
would consult the contract and make sure 'giving grades' doesn't
constitute a class.  If they press, design a tough as nails class that
has them designing webquests, creating bibliographies, doing book
reviews, role playing reference interviews, researching banned books,
etc. Word will get around, and they will all sign up for Physics or
Advanced Chemistry next time!

look at them as a source for book reviews, to make bulletin boards and
displays, to write a library newsletter
I've never had that many but I've known people who did. Some other
ideas are book displays, bulletin boards, teach them some about DDC,
reference tasks. Good luck.
I have had as many as 4 aides per period...way too many. This year I
have 4 total (all day) and that's perfect. Guidance gives me a list of
students who requested Library Science. I give each an application
which is due to me by a certain date. I then call them individually
for an interview, speak to their current teachers, and then I select.
Last year only 4 of 16 turned in the application so they were the only
4 I interviewed. In previous years I have not selected everyone who
applied. It's nice to have that option. I do not need to make more
work for myself; after all I'm a one-woman show! I currently have on
my desk a list of 17 who have requested library aide for next school
year! I do have a syllabus, a daily checklist of assignments, a rubric
for grading shelf reading, etc
I have been doing this for 6 years now and have found a great balance
between the students helping to run the media center and written
assignments. Crazy busy right now, but will try to get you outline of
assignments in the next day or 2. One word of advice: if your union
says that you should have a prep, fight for it. You can't have a
"floating prep" like a librarian if you are assigned students every
hour. Good luck!
Are the students bright enough to offer some tutoring?  What a great
opportunity that would be to get them involved with other students to
help them.
Definitely a syllabus!  I have students all year long, from 1 to 4 or
5 an hour (this year the most has been 4) and if they are not kept
busy, well, yes, there are behavior problems. Suggestions:
1.  I have the students do research-based projects like read a book
and watch the movie of the same - compare and contrast on PowerPoint
(helps them practice using PowerPoint for presentations and you can
have the kids present to the whole class when you have 6 to 10).  I
have them do 2 papers/projects per marking period for the first three
marking periods (the last marking period is shelf reading and
inventory).  Other assignments are for papers and some of them require
the use of specific databases only, work on primary and secondary
resources, and fairy tales - study the history of where the fairy tale
originated and look at various incarnations of the fairy tale then
tell how the culture and time have influenced the fairy tale.  I am
sure that you can come up with other assignments that fit your
situation and standards and benchmarks.  This gives them something to
work on when all the "library-related" chores are done (shelving,
checking in, copies, laminating, etc.)

2.  I have a form called a weekly duty sheet.  The student fills it
out daily to let me know what they accomplished that hour.  I grade
those weekly and it is 10 points I can use to grade general
"on-taskness" every week.  I also have a form for book repair work
(filled out each time they work on book repair).  It gives me a good
idea of how much time the student spends working and how much time
they spend standing in the stacks, pretending to shelve or shelf read.
 Cuts down on behavior problems.

3.  Also, the guidance counselors and I worked out a pre-requisite
form for admittance into my class - the students must "pass" a couple
of simple tests (alphabetizing, a writing sample, etc.) because if
they do not, they will likely fail my class.  I also make sure that
the counselors know that I have money from fines and so on so I need
to have responsible students with no background of dishonesty.  They
still stick the two or three "don't fit anywhere else in the schedule"
students in my class in the fall but they almost always drop by

4.  I do have the students work on displays and promotional
assignments like book trailers.  They can earn extra credit by doing
bookmarks (If you liked Twilight, then try...) or book reviews.  We
also have a blog where they can discuss books.  I haven't added a
storytelling/performance component yet but was toying with that idea
for next year.  This could be a book talk to a class, reading to an
elementary class (like storytimes at the public library), or some
other way of either storytelling or performing related to
books/reading/the library.

5.  I have library vocabulary (shelving, reference, research, catalog,
database, information literacy, fiction, media, search engine,
browser, etc.) that I give a pretest at the beginning of the year and
have them do activities with them throughout the year (a crossword
puzzle, for example) then a posttest at the end of the year.  This is
busy work, I know, but I feel it is still important to know certain
words/phrases and be aware of library vocab.

Overall, my assignments are geared toward many different learning
styles and covering many different information literacy components.
You can have them do web page/site evaluations, have a book or binder
of book reviews that they must add to each month or six weeks (part of
your "read a book" idea), and many other things.  You can keep them
busy and still have them do so much for the library.  I taught book
repair to my students, as well, and this helps keep my collection in
good repair (I do not have any adult help at any point of the day).
Hope it goes well for you –
Yes!  And then post it, make sure the students all see what will be
expected of them as Library Aides and I bet they will miraculously
find some class or schedule that will work for them that doesn't
include the library as a free period.
•       A-V support.  Train the students to be trouble shooters for
classroom tech problems.
•       Displays - Have them sign up for weeks.  Have the student sign up
for their week.  Have to turn in a storyboard of the display with
theme and all materials to be included prior to their week.
•       Information Literacy skills so they can be of assistance with
research as a TA and in their classes
•       Sure, Dewey tests to make sure they know the layout and how to
locate requested materials.
•       Weekly reading log, a book every 6 weeks seems a bit long, need to
have some due dates each week.  Reading log or journal which can be
requested turned in at any time.  Means they have to keep up with it,
not just wait until week 5.
•       Design a library webpage?  Group project, draw up the "front page"
look and then decide on what items will be available.
•       Design a library survey for the staff, and one for the students.
•       Flyers for great reads.
•       Flyers telling of the library resources and any passwords that would
be needed for home use.
•       Copyright and plagarism lessons.
•       Bibliography - Works Cited formats.
Oh my gosh!  What a nightmare!  My aides are on a pass/fail system,
and I have between 12-16 per year spread out over eight periods (we're
on a block, so we have four classes every other day.  I don't give
them assignments other than chores for helping out, and I'm sure many
of the things on my list you've already thought of, but here goes:
     Put out the day's newspapers, take the recycling to the recycling
center, fill the printers, shelve videos, shelve books, put out new
magazines, file vertical file articles, turn off computers, monitors,
printers right before the end of the day, take down and hang posters
and bulletin board, laminating new posters/bulletin board items
     My school has a large bulletin board in the hall near the
library, and my adult aide cuts out articles about our school/students
from the newspaper and they staple them up (my aides could cut out the
articles, too).
     Each aide has a specific set of shelves they're responsible for,
and they must check them for neatness every day and check them for
order once a week.  I have a sheet for them to date for this.
     I keep as display up all year of award-winning titles, and I've
created a checklist for one of my aides, and she sees which ones are
checked in, and she finds any that have gotten shelved and puts them
back on that display.
     I also have a cleaning checklist (the library's just too big for
my custodian to handle.), and they clean every other week: dust
shelves, clean tables, windows, keyboards, mice, dust window ledges,
     I get an extra copy of my local newspaper, and the current events
teacher gets lots, so I cut out articles and send them to students
featured. . .it's a big thing now to get one from me.  I have yellow
1/2 sheets of paper that I fold to make sort of a card and it says
"You're Famous!" on the front.  My aides deliver those every day, and
they help me cut out, too.
     I have two carts of laptops that operate out of the library, and
my aides deliver and pick those up.
     I like your idea of having them do book trailers and posters. . .
I might use that one, too!
Good luck. . . it will work out.  Stand your ground with the
principal/counselors.  Maybe the office needs to take some of your
I was in this same situation a couple of years ago, although I would
have 3, not 8. I made them do information searches in the print
Almanac and take ready-made quizzes. Maybe they could do some of the
tutorials on Britannica or World Book online, if you have it...and
learn how to navigate the database so they could show students how to
find information
Maybe you could come up with things they could do as assignments that
could also help you.  Here are some ideas of some things they could
work on:
Creating genre book marks or if you liked this author you might like bookmarks.
Planning thematic book displays
Creating book talks
Creating book jackets for boring or older books without interesting covers
They could work on shelf clearance and making sure the shelves are in order
Teach them some minor book repair techniques and they could work on
repairing books
Create posters to advertise new books in the library
You could have them read and write reviews for a library book blog.
You can get a free blog for educators at
You could have them create a library wiki web page with links to
favorite authors, book reviews, etc.  You can get a free wiki at
You could have them work on a library newsletter about the resources
available in the library.
Have them review whatever databases are available at your school and
have them come up with a quick guide or tips on doing research.
Have them work on brochures to assist students in research: the big
six, how to cite sources, how to use a table of contents, how to use
an index, introduction to the dewey decimal system.
Have them create research guides with a list of books, websites and
periodicals that can assist with commonly assigned research questions.
Have them choose a book from each genre and come up with a shelf
marker that recommends the book to students.
I would just recommend treating it as a class and giving them some
kind of rubric or assessment for their work.
First, that's a lot of kids for one period. I have 2-3 aides per
period in my middle school library and have a hard time keeping them
on task.
    Besides the "normal" tasks of the library, how about having them
promote the library? Create bulletin boards, not only for the library,
but possibly the school and other departments. They would be providing
a service. Have a form for teachers to fill out with what they are
looking for, have the students create the bulletin board and if they
happen to have a section with it called "further reading..." then that
just makes it all the better.
     What about having them go to elementary schools in the district
and doing a storytelling or booktalk? This would have many parts to
check on. They'd have to have things planned out in advance and have
the librarian approval.
    There are a few ideas in the article "It's Cool to Work in the
Library...Student Library Aides" It can be found through Ebsco. Have
the kids brainstorm ideas. Don't we always take a bit more pride in
things that we come up with?
I think your suggestions about bulletin boards, shelving, creating
trailers/podcasts are good ideas.  They can also deliver and retrieve
library equipment, look up resources online, and possibly create the
school's daily announcements - either by video, podcast, or Power
Point by working with the Principal's secretary or whoever else is
responsible for collecting information that needs to be shared with
other students.  If video, develop guidelines - general students info,
club info, band, football, dances, etc.  They can be responsible for
creating background sets and possibly work w/Theater Arts dept.  Also
aides could create a weekly, monthly, or six week newsletter. Just
some suggestions...
I am the library media specialist in a high school of approx. 900
students. I have a full time para and one library aide for each
period. (We're on a block schedule, so we have 4 periods/day, each 90
minutes long.)
     Last year (previous librarian), the library aides got graded on
keeping the shelves straight and showing up. I've made a few changes
to the requirements this year, but I'm interested in revamping a bit
for next year, so I'd be very interested to read about what other
schools are doing. I don't have any say in who gets to be library aide
-- students sign up and I have to work with what I've got...
     My grades fall into 4 categories: a. Daily Journal   b. Daily
Tasks  c. Projects   d. Shelf Reading
     Daily Journal:  I give students writing prompts each day, and
they spend the first 5 to 10 minutes they're in the library writing. I
tell them up front that I was originally an English teacher, so I do
care about spelling, punctuation, and grammar, but I'm most interested
in having them share ideas. My initial journal is about why they
signed up to be library aide, with a couple of follow-up journals to
help me get to know about their families and their interests. I'll
have them write about favorite books, or think about what makes a book
good, and I give them a couple of "free days" to write about any topic
that interests them. I like to write comments back to them, too. The
last journal they write is a reflection on their experience as library
     Daily Tasks:  My students have to check books in & out, shelve
whatever comes in during their period, keep the copier & printers
filled with paper, and generally be helpful. I also require them to do
15 minutes of reading a day -- can be a book, magazine, newspaper --
doesn't matter what they read, but they have to read every day.
     Projects: I currently have 4 projects for my students. The first
is "Library Orientation." I give them a tour of the library, then I
give them information on our library procedures and some basic
"library vocabulary." They get time to study it, and then they take a
50 point quiz.
         The second project is an annotated bibliography and display.
This year, my theme was "10 books you'd want to have with you on a
deserted island." Students wrote an annotated bibliography in MLA
format for their 10 books, then did a poster to display around the
library. Those were fun, and they look great hanging on the boring
white walls!
          The third project is a bulletin board or book mark. Students
can choose which they'd like to do, but if they're interested in the
bulletin board, they need to talk to me ahead of time so we can
schedule them in -- I have only one bulletin board available.
          The final project, due the last day of the quarter, is a
book review. This isn't just a summary-type book report, but more of
an analysis -- what was the author's purpose in writing this book? Did
he/she achieve that purpose? Should other people read this book? Why
or why not?
      Shelf Reading: I divide my shelves up into 4 sections, since I
have 4 library aides each quarter. They are each responsible for a
section of shelves, and I "grade" them each Friday on the neatness and
accuracy of their sections.
      For next year, I am thinking of having my library aides do more
reading & reviewing -- perhaps assigning a different genre each couple
of weeks, or having them write reviews for new books that arrive, and
then having a specific place where their reviews are displayed. (I'm
also wanting to start a library blog -- so I could have them put their
reviews there.)
I have the complete opposite problem—no para, no student help.
Anyway, some things I might try in your situation: Have students take
the Trails 9 evaluation online (  (I haven’t used it with
students yet myself, but it seems fabulous.)  After the assessment,
have each student learn about a particular area that s/he is weak in,
and report back to you and/or the group/class with their findings.
You could make the eval a multimedia experience, if you like: Windows
Movie Maker or Apple iMovie might work if you have video cams with
which students can record.
      Right now, that’s about all I’ve got.  It will probably be a bit
labor-intensive for you, but it might mean that you won’t have such
behavior problems next year.  I hope it goes well for you!
If the students are receiving credit for their time in the library
then it's easier to treat it like any other course that they sign up
for. If it's like a TA period where they receive no credit then it
would be much harder. I had this problem even though I did have a
for-credit course--the counselors stuck kids in the class that they
had nowhere else to place, even though they were supposed to have
prior permission to sign up.
      I basically made the class much tougher--each student had a
section of shelves and shelf checks were grades, but they also had
assignments in everything from finding material in reference books, to
web ethics and acceptable use, to creating their own websites. I told
each and every one that I wanted them to be able to do
undergraduate-level research before they left my class. I set it up as
an independent study course. Eventually folks got the message.
Thanks again to everyone who sent suggestions!
Katy Manck
Gilmer High School Librarian
850 Buffalo St.
Gilmer TX 75644
Adjunct Professor - University of North Texas,
  College of Information, Library Science & Technologies,
  Department of Library & Information Sciences

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