Libraries to celebrate students for dedicated support

Full-time staff consider student assistants ‘invaluable’

At least one of every three times a patron is assisted at University Libraries, he or she comes in contact with the heart of library service – the student library assistants (SLAs). On behalf of UT Libraries, the Diversity Committee will host the third Student Appreciation Celebration to recognize the dedication and hard work of SLAs on Wednesday, Feb. 23 from 2:30 to 4 p.m. in the Staff Lounge, Room 646 of John C. Hodges Library. The event is open to all library staff and student employees; refreshments will be provided.

Of the 450 faculty and staff at University Libraries, 150 are students. Students are responsible for serving library patrons on the frontline, tending to or organizing items in the library collections or maintaining and updating the libraries media and publications. Many of the full-time staff and faculty regard the student staff members as a vital part of the library – maintaining the level of high-quality service patrons expect.

“We couldn’t run our department without our SLAs,” Sheila Stephens, Media Center library specialist, said. “They keep us going and provide so much support for the services we offer – scheduling rooms, helping patrons with tapes and films. They’re invaluable to us.”

This is the third year of the celebration, which was originally intended to be bi-annual. However, the impact the event makes on the staff as a whole, as well as the students, was the impetus for changing the event to a yearly one, Thura Mack, Training Librarian, said.

“This is a tradition we really want to hold on to and continue to nurture,” Mack said. “The celebration is such a multi-faceted enriching experience for, not only our students, but the entire library community – student patrons, faculty and staff.”

Barbara Dewey, Dean of Libraries, will present certificates to the 24 students who have given two or more years of service to the library at 3 p.m.

“This event honors student library assistants who have been here for two years, but the celebration is open to all students,” Nathalie Hirstov, event organizer and Catalog Librarian, said.

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