Sunday, November 3, 2013

Volunteers in the Library

     For the past few years, our campus has been working hard to develop leadership qualities in our students.  We began by reading the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People as a campus book study.  Then we introduced the book The 7 Habits of Happy Kids to all classrooms, and focused on teaching these 7 habits to all our our students.
     The change in our school has been tremendous! The one aspect that I'm really impressed with is our 5th Grade Leadership Program.  All 5th graders go through a Leadership Academy, and at the end they all "apply" for jobs around the school such as:
  • Greeters = help greet parents and kids at the front of the building in the mornings
  • Morning Announcers = help make the announcements in the morning
  • Watt Watchers = go around school making sure lights are turned out in empty rooms
  • PreK Leaders = help in the PreK classrooms
  • Kinder Leaders = help in the Kinder classrooms
  • Safety Patrol = help remind kids to walk at the end of the day and help out at the buses and parent pick-up
     For the past 2 years, I've been lucky enough to have a group of students apply to be "Library Leaders" and come help me in the library.  At first I was completely excited about getting help!  Unfortunately, my school doesn't get many volunteers (or any for that matter), and I'm usually managing the library on my own.  (My only consistent volunteers are my mom and dad when they come to help out during the Book Fairs!)  
     I quickly realized that while having a group of 5th graders come to library to help was an awesome opportunity, it could also become a headache if I was having to always tell them what to do.  So, I once again went into UBER-ORGANIZED mode
     The first thing I did was brainstorm a list of all the "jobs" that were always needing to be done in the library on a day to day basis:
  • Shelving returned books
  • Adding new Magazines to the plastic holders
  • Stamping and labeling new or donated paperback books
  • Finding lost/misplaced books
  • Straightening up shelves and pulling books to the edge
  • Cleaning and organizing centers
  • Turning on computers and logging into the library account
  • Helping decorate and manage mini-events and Book Fairs
     One of the first things that popped out of that list was SHELVING!  Last year, I at least had 5-10 minutes in between classes to shelve books.  Unfortunately, this year, the schedule just didn't allow for that and I have usually 4-5 classes back to back in the morning and then again in the afternoons.  This means that I end up with about 150-200 books that need to be shelved at one time.  Having a system where my leaders could help me with shelving would definitely make my life much easier!
     So I created badges for each of my Library Leaders that listed "jobs" that they could do anytime they came in the library.  I could also use these for the rare times that I would actually get a volunteer in the library.  This way, I didn't have to stop what I was doing to tell them what to do.
     I copied the badges on card stock, double sided, and stuck them inside plastic name badge holders that I had purchased.  I hung them on the wall near my office using push pins.  Whenever they came in the work, they would put their badges on, and then they would hang them back up whenever they left.
They worked well, but unfortunately broke over time.  I also noticed that the library leaders would sometimes spend more time talking together, than actually working.  
     Over this past summer, I tried to find a better way to utilize library leaders.
I thought that if each library leader was responsible for certain bookshelves within each section, then when they came in to work they could go to "their" bookshelves, and at least be a little more spread out. To figure this out, I counted the number of bookshelves in the Fiction, Everybody, and Non-Fiction sections.  Then, I divided the number of bookshelves in each section by the number of Library Leaders I had.  This told me which bookshelves to put on each of the badges. I copied their name and job descriptions on cardstock again, but this time I laminated them back to back and hole-punched them in the center. I hung them on heavy duty nylon lanyards that I purchased, and this has worked out so much better.  
This year my Library Leaders even came up with a great suggestion to rotate the shelves and put a different focus on each day of the week. So together we created a schedule and posted it above their badges on the wall.

All of these badges and forms are available at my TpT store or Teacher's Notebook.  

I'm always trying to improve my systems, and would love to hear your ideas! How do you manage volunteers or student helpers in your library? 


  1. I love the concept of having students take on responsibilities around the school (especially the library). I tweeted this post and plan to also share it with the principal and guidance counselor. Thank you for sharing. Oh yeah! I'm going to visit your TPT and Teacher's Notebook for the badges.

    1. Thanks Pam! I absolutely LOVE my Library Leaders, and hope it works as well for you! Let me know how it goes!

  2. Wow! I love this idea. Thanks so much for sharing.

  3. I love this set of materials!! I bought as soon as I saw it on TPT. I was wondering the names of the fonts I needed to download to make the shelf rotation page not so jumbled! Thanks so much!!

    1. Thanks! :) I'm glad that you are finding it useful! The title font is from Lettering Delights and it's called "Funky Chicken". The font for the days of the week is called "Mouse Memoirs" and it's from (which is free). :0) Hope this helps!

  4. I’ve had student volunteers helping in my K-5 school library for about 5 years. It started off with just a few and now it’s grown to over 30 student volunteers. At the beginning of the school year 4th and 5th graders fill out an application if they’d like to work in the library. After two weeks of taking applications, each student who applied comes in for an interview. Along with myself, I enlist the help of the principal, assistant principal and school counselor. We call the students in one at a time and conduct a short interview. We take notes on the back of the application they’ve returned and I make my final selection from that. Once I’ve trained each volunteer to shelve books, they pick a row to be responsible for. I post their picture above the row, and it’s something they take pride in maintaining. Each student volunteer also works in our student store one day a week (this is by far their favorite part of volunteering). They also have a pictured ID badge to wear when volunteering. Also, some of my volunteers come in and are actually cleaning each book in the row they are responsible for! I am so thankful for my student volunteers, they work hard to help keep our school library maintained and are such a help to me.. Linda

  5. I love the idea of interviewing the interested students! Our 5th grade teachers give all their students a job application, but there's no interview process per se. Maybe in our future! Thanks for the great ideas!