By Khin Thandar Lwin, SMU School of Information Systems
Many freshmen—and even some Year 2s and 3s—aren’t aware of the existence of student helpers on campus. This is a thing, guys. I’m a student helper, and I work as a library assistant at the Li Ka Shing Library.
As a library assistant, Khin can be frequently seen on duty at the library desk.
A library assistant’s main responsibility is to assist library staff with the library’s day-to-day operations, which include attending the library desk and answering enquiries from library users.
Library assistants also help to repair damaged books. Be gentle with your library books, please!
So far, it’s been nine months since I started working as a library assistant. Since it’s almost time for me to celebrate my first anniversary (yay!), here are some of the ups and downs that I’d like to share with you, gentle reader.
1. The amazing work environment
Our newly refurbished library is simply the best workplace you can imagine. With a brand-new ergonomic workstation equipped with a super-large monitor, we library assistants are rather comfy at work. We even have our own lockers to keep all our odds and ends, including all the cold weather clothes we need to stay warm on those rainy evenings. Jealous yet? You should be.
2. The awesomely friendly librarians
When we’re serving at the library desk, library assistants are flanked by a library specialist on the left and a research librarian on the right. They’re just like our guardian angels: always on hand and ready to help when any challenging requests come in.
3. The company and camaraderie of our peers
As you might imagine, there are quite a number of library assistants working in the Li Ka Shing Library. We have our own WhatsApp group to stay connected and to support each other in times of need (especially during the madness known as Study Week).
It helps to take the chat with a pinch of salt, though. When someone in the group chat asks “Are you free on Friday?” he’s probably not asking you on a date – it’s more likely that he wants to swap his scheduled timelot with yours.
1. The “staycation syndrome”
Also known as cabin fever, this is what happens during lull periods, especially vacation breaks, when things start getting a bit mundane.
Ever wondered how your returned books make it from the book drop back to the shelves? Mystery solved.
No matter how much I enjoy the job, I do get quite bored from repetitive tasks such as re-shelving returned books. Especially for certain textbooks that are so popular that I can basically shelve them with both eyes closed and one hand tied behind my back.
2. The unexpected effects of peer pressure
Being a student myself, I find it hard to reject requests from my fellow students, especially if I know them personally. It’s too easy for me to completely empathise with their situation and urgent needs (“I have a deadline tomorrow, please, please, can you let me borrow the books?”) but I still can’t bend the rules. So please forgive me when I have to say no to you – it’s not personal!
All things considered, I’d say that the perks of working as a library assistant far outweigh the downsides. If you’d like to join our merry little team, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to register your interest!
Library assistants at the Li Ka Shing Library are eligible for the SMU Work-Study Grant scheme. Visit this link to find out more about the Work-Study Grant, along with other schemes that help SMU students to fund their studies.