Friday, January 25, 2008

Student workers, Delegating tasks to

Sometimes the time and effort spent delegating a task to one of your library's student workers can take longer and involve more work than just doing the task yourself. Before delegating any task to a student worker, it is often beneficial to ask, "Are you retarded?"

26 comments:

librarianwoes said...

The direct approach, I like that!

Kevin Musgrove said...

That would be a major breach of ettiquette in most libraries as that question is usually asked of managers.

Lee said...

I've been longing to ask one of my students that.

It begs the question, though: more correct to ask the student if he is retarded, or to simply stab him with a letter opener?

Oleg K. said...

Well you'd like to think high school freshmen had been taught the alphabet. Turns out the only task equal to some of our teen volunteers is finding Waldo.

Jillian said...

Ugh. I remember having a 15-minute argument with a student worker about going down to pull and photocopy a journal article.
He kept insisting he check the catalog to see if we even owned the journal, and wouldn't believe me when I reassured him that the librarian on the other end of the computer would not have been able to ask us to photocopy something if our catalog said we didn't have it.

Yvonne said...

I heart this post. Somehow I think that is why we hire them....sigh.

Tall Iced Mocha said...

stumbled upon your page referred to me by a librarian. love it.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, this often applies to full-time (unneeded) assistants as well.

Anonymous said...

When I'm not lamenting the fact that they don't bother to even show up half the time, I'm trying not to kill them for yapping constantly about how much homework they have or what their boyfriends did this weekend.

PKM said...

Your student workers have boyfriends???

Anonymous said...

This is why we rarely accept offers from people who want to volunteer in the library (the poor souls just can't understand why we wouldn't want their "help"). The last volunteer we had defaced a collection of children's books that he was supposed to be cleaning.

Laura said...

ha ha ha! As a workstudy supervisor who deals with students VERY (and I mean VERY) much like yours, I think it's safe to assume they are retarded.

One freshie told me just the other day that Jesus was her bread of life. I told her I was going to lunch.

Anonymous said...

Back when I was working with students I made a conscious decision to assume they were tripping on acid at any given time.

Phantasma said...

We take volunteers in my library system. Actually, we wouldn't get everything done without them (cheap county, 3rd richest in the country, always under budget, etc etc). HOWEVER those that are court-ordered or that have to do it for school. Those I can certainly live without.

"Are you retarded?"
"No, ma'am, just special"

Anonymous said...

I thought "Are you retarded?" was a question to ask yourself?

Kevin Musgrove said...

Bearing in mind my job and working environment, asking myself "am I retarded?" would be an exercise in redundancy.

Anonymous said...

As a student worker I apologize for my colleagues. It is with great humility that I pray for the kindness, patience, and understanding of our librarian task masters.

Kevin Musgrove said...

Anon 5:56,

That is a grave tactical error: show a librarian a sign of weakness and they'll spend half an hour telling you that they're a professional.

Anonymous said...

"That would be a major breach of ettiquette in most libraries as that question is usually asked of managers."

Isn't that the truth? We suspect the management at my library is in fact retarded.

Anonymous said...

You're damn lucky to even have student assistants. Our library retardation director decided we couldn't afford them anymore. She won't allow volunteers because they "are such a pain (in the ass)to control". WE have to shelve.

Off topic a little, why are they called "student assistants"? A page is a page is a page.

Anonymous said...

I was a very competent student worker when I was in college :(

Anonymous said...

Our student assistance must be a rare breed, they're actually really good workers, if a bit chatty. But they used to do some of the same jobs that our Staff workers did. Maybe they got better training?

Either way, they aren't bad, but we're slowly losing them. Our student aids are a dying breed.

Anonymous said...

My old library had student workers staff subsidiary reference desks in the evening, and I found out a couple of my students had their boyfriends over and were playing poker in the work area, when they were supposed to be shelving and helping patrons. This was after I told them - only staff allowed in the work area - so yes, "are you retarded" was a question very much on my mind.

Anonymous said...

Noone is perfect. Obviously the librarian can do it better, but there aren't enough hours in the day. We just have to sigh and say "That's good enough."

Mrs. Who said...

OH, My God, I would love to say this to some of my students. I gave up on student volunteers years ago. It's much easier to do it myself than to have to go back and find the books they have shoved behind the others so they won't have to shelve them (!).

Anonymous said...

A few of our older volunteers are like this - they aren't "retarded" (they're actually quite smart), but at times they do seem to be incapable of learning, particularly when technology is involved. We have people who have been here for years who still can't answer even the most routine computer questions.