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Underhill Library Student Assistant

Position Description

Under the supervision of the Music and Dance Librarian, the library student assistants are responsible for administering the circulation/reserve desk, answering basic patron reference questions, performing routine collection maintenance, and providing first level support for all library functions, including technology assistance. In order to properly assist patron inquires 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. In the absence of the Librarian, they are responsible for overseeing the full operation of Underhill Library.

Hours and Wage

Students average 6-10 hours of permanently assigned shifts, with additional hours as substitutes for coworkers.  Salary grade III, Swarthmore's highest for student employees.

Essential Duties

Operation of the library (in the absence of the Music and Dance Librarian)

  • Responsible for first level response to facility malfunctions and ensuring safety of building occupants
  • Opening the library without the guidance of the Librarian and being responsible for the oversight of the Library and its contents
  • Closing the library without the guidance of the Librarian and being responsible for locking the Library and checking that building doors are secure

Administration and operation of Circulation/Reserves desk

  • Providing high-quality customer service to library patrons
  • Checking in/out library materials, including resolving problems with patron and bibliographic records via 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 with locating items through a familiarity with the layout of the library, its collections, and its classification systems
  • Facilitating access to resources in the print and digital collections through a familiarity with the use of the tri-college library catalog and bibliographic databases
  • Providing patrons with library policies related to the reserve collection, the archives, loan periods, visitor privileges, printing, appropriate computer use, etc.
  • Providing first level technology support, such as installing software, setting up printer connections, and the use of common applications such as Moodle or MS Office.
  • Assisting with copiers, printers, and audio/visual equipment, etc.
  • Answering directional and informational questions, both library related and campus-wide

Collection, equipment, and facilities maintenance

  • Directing materials to the right location, requiring familiarity with library departments, campus libraries, and TriCo libraries
  • Shelving and shifting materials accurately within the classification systems
  • 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
  • Searching the collections for library materials that may be missing, "claims returned", etc.
  • Maintaining a usable collection 
  • Maintaining the audio visual equipment 
  • Performing light housekeeping chores 

Assisting with interlibrary loan, acquisitions, cataloging, processing, and preservation

  • Retrieving materials from the Underhill stacks and processing for delivery to Bryn Mawr and Haverford Colleges
  • Digitizing CDs and DVDs into electronic formats and uploading to streaming servers
  • Selecting materials to recommend for addition to the collections
  • Organizing and processing gifts
  • Binding music scores by hand sewing into special music binders
  • Processing of course reserves
  • Processing of new materials


  • A general group meeting at the beginning of the semester to cover changes, new information, key points, reminders, etc. 
  • Individual training sessions that include instruction and time at the circulation/reserve desk and which occur during the first few work shifts. Topics covered include the Library of Congress call number system, equipment such as printers, copiers, and microfilm machines, the Millennium software, building orientation, processes, procedures, and special projects. 
  • Ongoing training throughout the year as required by newly assigned tasks or as problems or changes arise. Communication is by e-mail, phone, in person or through the staff logbook.
  • Student assistants are encouraged to approach the staff with their own queries, as well as directing to staff other students/patrons with questions.

General Qualities Required/Desired

  • Strong interpersonal and communication skills.
  • Customer service experience/outlook.
  • User-oriented approach to service.
  • Accuracy and attention to detail.
  • Ability to work both as a member of a team and independently.
  • Experience with information technology.
  • Self-motivated, dependable, enthusiastic, and interested in the work being done.
  • Ability to work evenings and weekends as well as some daytime hours.
  • Knowledge of music and/or dance preferred.
  • Reading knowledge of one or more foreign languages preferred.
  • Previous library experience preferred.

Underhill Job Application

    The next round of hiring will begin on August 1, 2023 through Swarthmore's JobX student employment portal.  Applications are due by Tuesday September 5th.  For further information, please contact Donna Fournier (, 610-328-8231).