Cornell Library Student Assistant (Weekdays)

Position Objective

Under the supervision of the permanent staff, the Cornell Library student assistants are responsible for administering the circulation desk, answering patron's reference questions, performing routine collection maintenance, and providing first level support for all library functions, including technology assistance. In order to properly assist patrons and make sound judgment calls when completing assigned tasks, student assistants will be knowledgeable about library policies, well-versed in library collections and services, skilled at providing first level technical support for computers and library equipment, and will provide consistent, high-quality customer service when assisting patrons with issues, disputes, and complaints.


Students average 4-6 hours of permanently assigned shifts, with additional hours worked as substitutes.

Essential Duties

Administration and operation of Circulation Desk

  • Providing high-quality customer service to library patrons
  • Checking in/out library materials, including resolving problems with patron and bibliographic records using the Millennium Integrated Library System
  • Collecting fines and handling other cash transactions
  • Ensuring the integrity, privacy, and confidentiality of patron records and transactions
  • Maintaining poise when confronted by complaints, disputes or problem patrons
  • Monitoring activity in the library, the level of noise and the use of the facility
  • Maintaining awareness of who is coming in and going out of the library and any situations that may need the attention of permanent staff, Public Safety, or Facilities

Assisting library users with basic reference, resource, and technology questions

  • Assisting patrons in finding items through a familiarity with the Library of Congress system, the layout of Cornell Library, and its collections
  • Facilitating access to resources in the print and digital collections with the use of the TriCollege library catalog and bibliographic databases
  • Answering directional and informational questions, both library and college-related
  • Providing patrons with Cornell Library policies: reserves, loan periods, visitors, printing, appropriate computer use, etc.
  • Providing first level IT support to users with technical problems and questions
  • Assisting with copier and printer

Collection maintenance

  • Directing materials to the right location, requiring familiarity with library departments, campus libraries, and TriCollege libraries
  • Shelving and shifting materials accurately within the Library of Congress classification system
  • Locating, retrieving and processing items for delivery to Bryn Mawr and Haverford libraries
  • Inventorying/shelf-reading areas of the collection to ensure accuracy and locate missing items.
  • Maintaining a usable collection

Operation of the library (in the absence of permanent staff)

  • Responsible for first level response to facility malfunctions and ensuring safety of building occupants


  • Student assistants must attend a general group meeting each semester, at which time the supervisor alerts them to any changes, reviews procedures, and begins the training for new students.
  • Individual training is given during the first few work shifts. Topics include the Library of Congress call number system, the Millennium circulation software, equipment (printer and copier), building orientation, processes and procedures
  • Training is an ongoing process -throughout the semester as problems and changes occur. This includes mandatory Blackboard quizzes that review procedures and policies.
  • Formal reference training is received during a mandatory "Reference Party" when the science librarian reviews the Library of Congress classification system, points out important reference resources, and teaches the use of several science databases.
  • Informal reference training occurs throughout the year as questions arise. Student assistants are encouraged not only to approach Cornell staff with their own queries but also to direct other patrons with questions to them. This is an additional opportunity for student assistants to learn reference procedure.

General Qualities Required/Desired

  • Familiarity of Cornell Library and its collection required.
  • Science majors preferred.
  • Previous library experience (at McCabe or elsewhere).
  • Ability to provide high quality customer service.
  • Accuracy and attention to detail.
  • Experience with technology and the ability to troubleshoot printers, copiers and other equipment.
  • Self-motivated, dependable, enthusiastic, and interested in the work being done.