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Leveraging student expertise for niche services

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Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate using student employees with expertise in niche areas to provide library services outside the traditional scope of full-time library employees. It examines a case study where an academic library employed undergraduate students to assist users in makerspace-related work and, more recently, graduate students to assist users in data analysis. This paper will determine whether such students can provide satisfactory service to users.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper includes a background of the services, including hiring, training and assessment. The methodology for assessment includes analyzing user-created booking data, student employee consultation data and user feedback surveys to determine user and student employee satisfaction with the services.

Findings

The findings report high usage numbers and overall high user and student employee satisfaction with the two services, suggesting that student employees can be used effectively in such a way.

Originality/value

Although libraries often use student employees for lower-level library tasks, these results suggest libraries with limited resources and full-time staff should consider using student employees to provide specialized consultations, especially pertaining to software and other technologies.
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Keywords: Case study; Data analysis; Makerspaces; Student employees; Technology; University Libraries

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University Libraries, University of Nevada Reno, USA

Publication date: June 8, 2020

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