If Franny Ryan and Dianna Frye were to put out a Classified ad for a student worker, it might look something like this: Wanted -A person with excellent communication skills who is punctual and pays good attention to detail. It would continue saying one must also have the ability to work with the public, but no prior knowledge of library skills is needed.
Ryan and Frye are both supervisors in the Calvin Coolidge Library at Castleton State College who each have 20 or more years of experience here. They have seen a lot of student workers come and go throughout the years, but not because the students quit their work-study jobs in the library – they simply just move on.
“We hate to see them leave. We love all our work-study students and wish they could stay, but they graduate,” said Ryan, the serials/Interlibrary loan supervisor.
A majority of the student workers in the library work all four years of college, according to Frye, who is the circulation assistant to Ginger Johnston. Frye also said how work-study in the library is a positive experience for all and that both sides benefit.
“We couldn’t run the library without work-study students. They perform many support-staff type tasks,” said Ryan.
The benefits are not just for the supervisors in the library though. Student workers develop many skills that can be valuable to them when they graduate. Often the supervisors will write recommendations for jobs and scholarships that the students may be applying for. They also offer flexible hours, including weekends and nights, which accommodate all student-workers.
There are about 35 student workers in the library, between circulation, serials/interlibrary loan, and tech services. They work anywhere from one to 20 hours per week.
Ashlee Smith, a senior, has worked in the library for about a year and loves it because of the flexibility. She described her general duties as checking in and discharging books, organizing shelves, re-shelving books and keeping order of the shelf reading slips.
Smith has gained some valuable assets while working in the library such as “a strong familiarity with reference materials, which could be helpful for graduate school or career choices.” She has also formed a bond with the other workers and the supervisors that for her has just as much worth as the resources.
“The people in here are like our moms away from home. Ginger will make sure you’re okay when you’re not feeling well. It’s nice to have that when you’re not at home,” Smith said, referring to Johnston, Ryan and Frye.
Mallory Strange, a junior who has worked in the library since her freshman year, agreed with Smith in saying that “it’s like a family here and we all go to Ginger for help.”
She also expanded on the topic of benefits.
“Working here has really taught me to use my time wisely. There are so many resources here that can help me, and in turn help others,” Strange said.
Strange said she looks forward to coming to work because of its comfortable environment. She also enjoys the accumulated knowledge for where things are in the library, which makes it easy for her to walk people over to exactly what they’re in need of.
Though workers do eventually graduate from Castleton and inevitably give up their work-study jobs, many of them still keep in touch with the supervisors. Past workers send e-mails and Christmas cards to update the supervisors on their lives. The supervisors and workers truly take interest in one another’s lives and the bond formed lasts many years, even a life time.
“We become very maternal. Friendships, even marriages, are formed after working together and we all keep in close touch,” said Sandy Duling, library director.