Student Assistants as Library Ambassadors:
A Specialized Customer Service Training Program

Poster Presentation III-6, Sunday, 27 June 1999

1999 ALA Conference, New Orleans, Louisiana

Douglas F. Hasty, MLS
Green Library
Florida International University
Miami, Florida 33199, USA

Abstract

Public relations are an integral part of a library's service success.  Within academic libraries there exists an untapped, trained public relations staff -- the student assistant.  Long delegated to the important but routine tasks endemic for many library functions, these tireless and loyal staff more often work the hours and schedules when most librarians are at home.   Consequently, student assistants are in primary contact with their peers for a majority of the library's opening hours.  Therefore, they are an invaluable public relations asset.  Not having student assistants serve as active members of the library's public relations efforts is an oversight.  If these valuable staff members are not fully directed to serve the patrons' needs to the fullest of their capacity, then the library has missed an opportunity to remain fully cognizant of patron needs.  The use of student assistants as a source and advocate of public relations is an astute, cost effective initiative on the part of the library's public services administrators and planners.

I. Points to Cover

II. Logical Sequence of Exhibit and Information

III. Statement of the Problem

IV. Objectives of the Project

V. Methodology used to implement the program

VI. Major findings or outcomes and their significance and conclusions

Service Points and Provider Purposes

Information Desk

Service: Primary point-of-contact service desk provides patrons with referrals to other service desks (Reference, Circulation, etc.) or sections within the library (collections, bathrooms, telephones, etc.)

Provider: Primarily staffed by Senior Technical Assistants or Student Assistants; occasionally staffed by various Librarians

Circulation Desk

Service: Patrons can obtain specific information about lending rules and responsibilities, fines, obtaining and replacing library cards, and borrowing privileges at other libraries

Provider: Primarily staffed by Senior Technical Assistants or Student Assistants; rarely staffed by various Librarians

Reserve Collection Desk

Service: Patrons can obtain materials held in the Reserve Collection

Provider: Primarily staffed by Senior Technical Assistants or Student Assistants; rarely staffed by various Librarians

Interlibrary Loan Service Counter

Service: Patrons can obtain specific information about Interlibrary Loan and Document Delivery privileges, responsibilities, and rules associated with the use of borrowed materials and the acquisition of photocopied or otherwise reproduced materials

Provider: Primarily staffed by Senior Library Technical Assistants and Student Assistants; frequently staffed by the Interlibrary Loan Librarian

Reference Desk

Service: Patrons can obtain information concerning their information, research, and instructional needs, plus instruction about computer-accessed and traditional print research/information providing sources

Provider: Primarily staffed by Reference Librarians and Senior Library Technical Assistants; staffed by Student Assistants during late evening hours, 7 days per week

Electronic Reference Center

Service: Patrons can obtain focused instructional assistance when performing research on separately networked electronic databases

Provider: Primarily staffed by Senior Technical Assistants or Student Assistants; frequently staffed by Reference Librarians

Government Documents Desk

Service: Patrons can obtain information concerning their information, research, and instructional needs, plus instruction about computer-accessed and traditional print

Provider: Primarily staffed by Government Documents Librarians and Senior Library Technical Assistants; staffed by Student Assistants during late evening hours, 7 days per week

Periodicals Information Desk

Service: Patrons can obtain assistance with locating bound and unbound periodical issues, assistance with copy machines, or general location and service needs

Provider: Primarily staffed by Student Assistants; rarely staffed by Librarians or Senior Technical Assistants

Microforms Service Desk

Service: Patrons can obtain assistance with locating microform sets, loading the microform into the reader/printer machines, and with associated reader/printer machine malfunctions

Provider: Primarily staffed by Student Assistants; rarely staffed by Librarians or Senior Technical Assistants

Audio-Visuals Desk

Service: Patrons can obtain assistance with locating A/V materials, and displaying or using in the appropriate machine

Provider: Primarily staffed by Senior Technical Assistants or Student Assistants; frequently staffed by the Audiovisual Services Librarian

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Updated
July 30, 1999