Volume 27, Number 1, Spring 2005

Recognition and Recruitment, Consortium Style

by: Jean Sheviak, Capital District Library Council (N.Y.)

In 2004 the Capital District Library Council (CDLC) initiated a new award for student employees in libraries. The purpose of the CDLC Outstanding Student Employee Award is to reward excellence among young library workers, both to exemplify the high standards sought in library staff and to encourage investigation of librarianship as a career. All member libraries that employ students are eligible to participate in the program. Libraries receive a packet including fliers to distribute and post, a program registration form, and a student selection form. The library pays a small fee which helps to cover the cost of the reception for the students and their supervisors, and they select the student winners from their library. To be eligible for the award the student must have completed at least one year of employment in the library.

The Student Award Committee established the following criteria for award selection:

  • Excellent Attendance Record. The student shows commitment, dedication and time management skills.
  • Outstanding patron service skills and colleague interaction. He or she is alert to patron needs and possesses excellent communication skills.
  • Responsibility. Award winners demonstrate professionalism and high standards of performance.
  • Peer Leadership. The student sets a good example for other student workers and models professional demeanor.
  • Interest and Initiative. Those who are selected look for projects and express interest in learning about the library profession.
For the first group of award winners, CDLC prepared letters notifying the students of their award and inviting them to the ceremony, which took place in April, 2004. The first class included sixteen students from seven institutions. Fourteen were college students, and two were high school seniors. Both academic and public libraries were represented. In a ceremony at CDLC headquarters, they heard remarks from the president of the CDLC Board of Trustees, who started his career as a student library worker; were presented individually with certificates and a CDLC portfolio; met representatives from the School of Information Science and Policy at the University at Albany; and enjoyed refreshments.

The idea for this award came from discussions between two librarians who were looking for ways to motivate and reward the many student workers they supervise. The CDLC Board of Trustees endorsed the proposal, and a small committee was formed to guide the project. Initial concerns that students might find the ceremony “lame” were dispelled by the large turnout and the frequently-heard comment, “This is so nice!” One winner, a high school senior, asked whether we thought the award might help her get a library job when she entered college in the fall (yes!), and another has recently applied to library school.

Because of the success of the first awards, we expect that many more libraries will participate this year. We’ll also plan to invite the press to join us at the next award ceremony. We are pleased with the success of this simple, inexpensive way to reward good work while promoting our profession.

For more information, contact Sheviak at (518) 438-2500, by e-mail , or visit the CDLC Web site.