This page contains the policy manual for student assistants at Moffett Library.

A PDF version can also be downloaded:


I. Introduction

  1. How You Benefit From Working in the Library
  2. A Good Student Employee
  3. Why Are You Reading This Manual?

II. Getting the Job and Keeping It

  1. Hiring
  2. Probation and Dismissal
  3. Evaluations 
III. Work Schedules
IV. Time Clock and Paychecks

V. On-the-Job Policies

  1. Breaks
  2. Job Attire
  3. Socializing
  4. Eating and Drinking
  5. Studying on Duty
  6. Cell Phones
  7. Headphones
VI. Work Etiquette and Protocol
  1. Person to Person
  2. Telephone
  3. Clarifying a Patron’s Request 
VII. Library Organization
  1. Administrative Structure
  2. Departmental Functions

VIII. Emergency Procedures

I. Introduction

Academic libraries traditionally rely heavily on a large number of student employees. They help with many routine tasks, e.g. shelving books that permit the rest of the staff to handle their library duties. Frequently, many people view anyone working in a library as a librarian (or at least as someone who knows more about the library that they do.) They may ask questions ranging from "Where is the pencil sharpener?" to an involved research question. Therefore, student employees may provide greater assistance if they understand some of the general background of library work, and don't see their time as just what they do between classes. 

A.  How You Benefit From Working in the Library 
  • Flexible hours to fit your class schedule
  • Experience in dealing with people
  • The opportunity to learn library research skills; the Reference Department will conduct a library research training session for new employees
  • Experience in being part of an organization
  • Future job recommendations
  • No library fines while you are an employee (as long as this is not abused)
 B.   A Good Student Employee 
  • Is responsible
  • Follows through on assignments
  • Doesn't skip problems
  • Asks questions
  • Takes assigned tasks seriously
 C.  Why Are You Reading This Manual? 

The general guidelines in this manual have been prepared to help you understand what is expected of all student assistants in the Library. Departments may have additional guidelines as well as specific procedures for the many tasks you will be performing. All departments in the library use this policy manual for general guidelines. This manual and any departmental guidelines should help you to:

  • Develop a philosophy of service and promote a friendly service oriented attitude
  • Fulfill designated tasks
  • Become aware of the nature of the library user's needs
  • Make clear the student worker's limitations in assisting other students
  • Ensure that library users receive adequate assistance
  • Increase the student employee's own knowledge about the library and the resources available in support of their own library needs

 The Library staff appreciates your contribution and hopes that your library employment will be positive. Many of the policies listed here are comparable to those you may find in other careers. Since the library attempts to employ students who maintain a better that average scholastic standing, the staff hopes that your employment may be a source of pride for you as well. 

II. Getting the Job and Keeping It

A.          Hiring

Shortly before, or as soon as possible after the start of each semester, each department in the library accepts applications from students wishing to work in the library. 

  1. Students will be assigned to a specific job, but may be asked to help from time to time with other jobs - perhaps in a different department.
  2. Students are required to have and maintain a 2.0 cumulative grade point average and be enrolled for at least 6 hours as an undergraduate, and as a graduate. 
  3. Your grades will be checked before you are hired.
 B.           Probation and Dismissal

 All student assistants are on probation for the first four weeks of employment in the library.

After completion of those four weeks, a student may be put on probation for another two weeks. At the beginning of this two-week period, there will be a counseling conference between the supervisor and the student explaining the reason for the additional probationary period.

In all departments two unexcused absences are considered cause for probation. An example of this would be failure to show up for a scheduled shift.

Some examples of excused absences are sickness, conflict with school activities, family emergency, etc. These should be cleared by a telephone call, a text message, or an email beforehand to the supervisor directly, either at home or at work.

Violations that are reasons for warning that could be followed by probation include but are not limited to the following:

  • Use of work time for something other than work, i.e. lengthy or excessive phone calls
  • Unsatisfactory work performance
  • Minor insubordination
  • Frequent calling in sick
  • Repeated tardiness for work
  • Disrespect for fellow employees or library users
  • Too much of a social life that effects work performance
  • Could not be trusted to work unsupervised
    Using computers for emailing, chat room visiting, online shopping, doing homework unless authorized by supervisor

 More serious violations that justify immediate dismissal include:

  • Theft of any kind
  • False reporting of hours worked on time clock
  • Unauthorized use of University property
  • Extreme insubordination
  • Communication of confidential information
  • Committing any violation while on probation
  • Misuse of library authority/capability
  • Personal use of any University computer to access, download, print, store, forward, transmit or distribute obscene material is prohibited.  “Obscene” with respect to obscene material shall mean (1) that an average person applying contemporary community standards would find the material taken as a whole predominantly appealing to the prurient interest, or a shameful or morbid interest in nudity or sex, (2) the material depicts or describes in a patently offensive way sexual conduct, and (3) the material taken as a whole lacks serious literary, artistic, research, or scientific value

 The Warning - Probation - Dismissal procedure has two steps. They are:

Step 1. Verbal warning from employer to student.

Step 2. Written warning from employer to student two weeks later listing specific problems and necessary behavior changes. The student will then be on probation and be given two more weeks to show significant improvement. If the situation is not resolved, then the student may be dismissed.

C.          Evaluations

Students will be evaluated as either satisfactory or as unsatisfactory on:

  1. Job Knowledge
  2. Quality of work performed
  3. Quantity of work performed
  4. Attendance record
  5. Cooperation with supervisor
  6. Cooperation with fellow workers
  7. Attitude
  8. Acceptance of responsibility
  9. Ability to work unsupervised
  10. Individual initiative

III.  Work Schedules 

Student workers are responsible for transportation to and from work.

1. Each student should submit his class schedule to his supervisor as soon as possible so that departmental schedules can be established.

2. Once your work schedule has been arranged, you are responsible for the following:

  1. Work your assigned hours.
  2. Be on time when reporting to work.
  3. Call your supervisor an hour in advance or as soon as possible if you can't get to work. You must speak directly to your supervisor if possible; call back / text / email if he/she is unavailable.
  4. Be prepared to find a substitute if you have a co-worker and you cannot work your hours. 
3. In order to be paid for 60 minutes, a student must work full hours. An exception is made when you are leaving for class. Students can leave work 5 minutes before and leave for classes and claim 1 hour on their time clock.

4. If your department operates on nights, weekends and holiday breaks, you may be scheduled to work at such times.

5. Making up work hours:
  1. During times the library and university are officially closed, for example: July 4th, Thanksgiving, etc., hours lost will not be made up.
  2. As library hours change for interim periods, for example: between semesters, students may reschedule hours at the discretion of their supervisor.
  3. If work hours are missed for personal reasons, including vacation and illnesses, the hours will not be made up.
  4. If the hours of missed work are due to class related activity, example: classroom observance, hours may be made up at the discretion of the supervisor. 

IV. Time Clock and Paychecks

1. The University establishes student wage guidelines. All student assistants work in two-week periods. 

2. Their time clock records go to the Payroll Department the 1st and 15th of the month.

3. The payroll workweek runs Sunday through Saturday, and students may not work any more than 20 hours per week; a student should not work more than 8 continuous hours.

4. Remember to clock in and out in a timely manner so that you receive your full amount of hours worked.


  1. This basic procedure for filling out time sheets must be followed by all student assistants.
  2. Use your M number (Campus Wide ID) as the initial clock in step.
  3. Make sure to use the finger that you logged in with in the payroll/ human resource services office to on the Time Clock device.
  4. Because of class schedules, student assistants are allowed to work split shifts. Record each separate arrival and departure time in a separate space on the time sheet. Remember that turning in an incorrectly filled out time sheet may result in no paycheck.

V. On-the-Job Policies

All of the items below are important. If you have any questions about any of them see your supervisor and talk about them.

 A.          Breaks

 If you work four (4) hours in succession you are entitled to have a fifteen- (15) minute "break." A break is intended as a rest period to be followed and preceded by work. It may not be used to cover a late arrival or an early departure. You may use the Staff Lounge for your break. You are not to have your friends in this area with you. The only time you may use this area is when you are on duty. 

B.           Job Attire

You are expected to be neat and well-groomed as appropriate to your job requirements.  Clothes must be in good repair and clean. Remember that you represent the library not only to other students, but also to faculty, administrators, and community users.  Use common sense, and talk with your supervisor if this is a point of concern. The staff may ask students who are dressed inappropriately to leave and change: making up lost time will not be authorized.  The following are some basic guidelines (this is not all inclusive):

  • Appropriate length shorts.
  • No crop tops which do not cover the midriff.
  • No spaghetti straps on tops or dresses.
  • No clothes displaying inappropriate or vulgar language/pictures.
  • No skirts or dresses shorter than knee length.  (Due to the requirements of the job - stooping, reaching for books, standing on step stools. etc.) 
C.          Socializing 

If your friends stop to visit, tell them you cannot have extended conversations on work time. Your job is to do your work, or help library users, and you cannot do this effectively if you spend time socializing. If you must stop and visit with friends, keep it very short -- 5 minutes at the maximum. Do not sit on carts or put your feet up on the desk. 

D.          Eating and Drinking 

DO NOT EAT IN WORK AREAS. Go to the staff lounge to eat meals or snacks. You may eat small snacks such as crackers at your work station if your supervisor gives you permission. Coffee and bottled drinks with lids are also allowed, just keep them away from the computers and other work related electronics. Make sure to clean up any mess made as soon as possible. 

E.           Studying on Duty 

Studying is allowed in public service desks if all tasks are caught up. Check with your supervisor for possible task assignments from other departments in the library before you study. 

F.         Cell Phones 

Personal calls should be kept to a minimum and should be conducted during breaks. (Do not take personal calls at the desk)

G.         Headphones

Headphones are prohibited while working at the public desks (Circulation, Reference, IT Help). Students shelving or shelf reading can listen to music as long as they have one ear free, in case patrons need their assistance/have questions.

VI. Work Etiquette and Protocol 

Whether you work in a Public Service department or a Technical Service department, you will meet both library staff and library users. Certain rules exist for communicating with these groups. Basically, that can be divided into: 

A.          Person to Person 

1. Be courteous to co-workers, supervisors, and other library staff members, as well as library users. Remember to say, "Please," "Thank you," and "You're welcome."

2. When talking with others, especially library patrons, use these standard behaviors:

  • If you are at a desk or working, stop, smile, and "tune in" to the conversation.
  • Establish eye contact.
  • Listen carefully.
  • Be enthusiastic.
  • Refer all questions to the Reference Desk unless the question is about a location in the library
  • Offer help if asked; for example, don't just point toward the desired place; whenever possible, walk with the user to the area about which he is inquiring.
  • Recognize those waiting their turn for help. Remember to let them know you will be right with them. Try to take them in order by asking, "Who's next."
  • Help find the materials a user is looking for.
  • Make further suggestions when you can.
  • Offer future help; "Let me know if you need more help."
  • Show interest, courtesy, and empathy; begin the discussion when a person is coming to you for help. "May I help?" Or "Are you finding what you need?"
  • SMILE!!! 
B.           Telephone 

1. When answering the telephone, you are speaking on behalf of your department and the entire library. The prompt and courteous handling of telephone calls is important because first impressions are usually lasting ones.

2. You will be trained on how to use the telephone in the library. You will learn how to transfer calls and how to place a caller on hold. Some departments have their own rules regarding telephone answering.

3. Always answer the phone with the name of the department and ask, "May I help you?"

4. When answering the phone, speak slowly; on calls use the following form: "Moffett Library; _________Department.

5. Be ready to take a message; have pencil and paper ready. Write down complete information, i.e. name of caller, phone number, date/time called, message, your initials. Post the messages where the person they are intended for will get them quickly. (Make sure to sign the note)

6. Personal calls on library telephones are allowed only with the permission of your supervisor. Discourage family and friends from frequent calls. 

C.          Clarifying a Patron’s Request 

We expect employees to know their job, know something about the department in which they work, and to know certain things about the entire library. WE DON'T EXPECT YOU TO KNOW EVERYTHING. Don't hesitate to ask questions, especially when you are dealing with a library user. Your department may have rules regarding this; please refer to them. If you cannot reach someone and cannot answer a question yourself, take down the information and phone number from the user and tell them that someone on the staff will get back to them and ask the patron to check back later.


  • Don't guess.
  • Don't say, "I don't know" and not try to provide an answer.
  • Never leave a library user until you have helped them or gotten someone to help them.

Other things NOT TO SAY:

  • You want what!! ; In a voice that suggests, "You've got to be kidding.”
  • We don't have anything like that (meaning "leave me alone.)

Again, you are not expected to know everything that the full time staff knows. Try to remember this: THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A STUPID QUESTION. 

VII. Library Organization

Below is an outline of the administrative structure of the library. Following the outline is a section briefly describing each of the departments and their functions.

A.          Administrative Structure 


University Librarian

Associate University Librarian



Circulation Department

Reference Department

Government Documents

CML (Curriculum Materials Library)

Media Center




Interlibrary Loan


Special Collections

Collection Development


B.           Departmental Functions

Library functions are traditionally divided into Public Services and Technical Services. The Public Services staff help the library user identify and use the library materials. The Technical Services staff is the "behind the scenes" part of the library, as it is responsible for preparing all the library materials, books, audio-visuals, electronic resources etc., for the user. A brief description of each library department follows.

ADMINISTRATION: The University Librarian oversees the total operation of the library and represents the library to the academic community as well as the community at large. The Associate University Librarians help maintain the operation of the library, and assists the University Librarian and supervise personnel.

CIRCULATION DEPARTMENT: All books in the general collection, as well as CML materials, media, and documents are checked out at this desk. Users renew and return books and pay fines here. The staff will also attempt to locate books which the OPAC indicates are available, but which are not on the shelf, and place holds on books checked out so that someone else needing a book may be notified when it is returned. In addition, the Course Reserve collection is located behind the circulation desk. Student employees check out and reshelve books and assist the staff with other circulation functions such as giving out change for the machines and answering the phones.

REFERENCE DEPARTMENT: This should be the starting point for anyone not familiar with this library who needs to know what materials to use for research, where certain collections are located, and just about any other question a library user might have. Students in this department help librarians with collection development by checking book holdings; they file updated materials in loose-leaf reference books; they also refile the microfiche and microfilm collections in reference, answer reference questions including those dealing with electronic resources and the OPAC and reshelve reference books.

INTERLIBRARY LOAN: Books, magazine articles, etc. are loaned to or borrowed from other libraries. The staff uses a sophisticated computer system called OCLC that allows libraries to look up a title and see if other libraries own it. Students in this department retrieve books that other libraries have requested and scan photocopies of magazine articles to be sent to those libraries.

DOCUMENTS DEPARTMENT: The Documents Department contains a collection of federal and state publications. They are arranged by issuing agency and cover a wide variety of topics. Users are taught to use specialized indexes to locate as many items as possible. The more significant titles have been entered into the OPAC. Most of the materials check out for three weeks.

PERIODICALS DEPARTMENT: This department contains magazines, journals, and newspapers in various formats. Current issues, and microfilm are all shelved in the public area or electronically on the public workstations. All periodicals are listed in the OPAC under title. The student assistants in this area help check in and process the mail, help patrons with the use of the materials in this area, reshelve microfilm, and single issues of magazines. THIS COLLECTION DOES NOT CIRCULATE.

CML (CURRICULUM MATERIALS LIBRARY): The CML has children's books (K-12th grade), public school textbooks, games/posters, teacher preparation books, magazines, classroom type audiovisual materials, etc. While most materials are primarily of interest to education students and faculty, many items could be useful to other MSU students.

MEDIA CENTER: The media center houses the library's collection of CD's, thousands of videotapes, and DVD's, along with filmstrips, slides, audiocassettes, computer software, kits, and other media items. This collection contains both instructional and entertainment items, which are available for both in-house and checkout.

RARE BOOKS AND SPECIAL COLLECTIONS: This department houses rare books, including the Nolan Moore Heritage of Print; masters theses written at MSU, and provides research access to many other special collections of books, papers, and photographs. This collection is only open from 8-3 P.M., Monday-Friday. THIS COLLECTION DOES NOT CIRCULATE.

COLLECTION DEVELOPMENT: This department is responsible for overseeing the acquisition and maintenance of the various collections in the library. Book orders are processed from faculty and librarians' requests. In-house mending and evaluation of gift collections are handled through this department as well.

ACQUISITIONS: All materials ordered for the library are handled through this department. Librarians and faculty order most of the material. The staff verifies the information needed to order the material, makes sure the library does not already own a copy, enters each order into the local system, and maintains the budgets of each academic department.

CATALOGING: This department is responsible for processing all materials from the time they arrive to the time they are available for access by library patrons. All access points (call number, subject heading, etc.) are either verified or created for use in the OPAC. Student workers are primarily responsible for security stripping (stamping, etc.) and labeling materials.

VIII. Emergency Procedures 

1. During the normal working day, regular full-time library employees will handle emergencies.

2. On weekends, the Reference Librarian on duty is in charge. At nights primarily the night circulation manager is in charge.

3. In certain cases, you may need to call other library personnel. Your supervisor should inform you when and under what circumstances, you should call.

Phone number for Campus Police Ext. 4239

The names and home phone numbers of other library personnel are listed in the Moffett Library Directory.


  • What are the emergency guidelines for your department?
  • In case of emergency, what are your priorities as told by your supervisor?
  • Where are the library exits?
  • Where is the fire extinguisher?
  • Are you responsible for clearing any areas or floors of the library?

If you are reading this handbook as part of your initial job duties as a student worker at Moffett Library, please ask your supervisor for the STUDENT HANDBOOK ACKNOWLEDGEMENT FORM at this time.