Student staff play an invaluable role in the library. They are unique and skilled individuals with experience and insights, and they see both sides of the interaction: as patron and as staff member. Every time I hired a student staff member, I encouraged them to give feedback and to make suggestions for improvements. Some of my student staff would look at me wide-eyed; some of them would say that they never had a manager who asked them for input.
While librarians should help to mentor student staff in their development as students and as staff members, many of the students who worked with us come to us from rich and varied work backgrounds: technical writers, authors and artists, technology staff, and barristas. They might be excellent problem solvers or organizers. Whenever possible, I have assigned them projects that related to their experience and ability. Because I find cross-industry inspiration so useful, I was always interested in how students with some service industry experience approached service excellence.
I have supervised over 30 student staff members and I learned so much from listening to them. Their input gives us, the library staff who live and breathe libraries, an opportunity to see the library from another perspective. Over the years, I hope the experience has also been rewarding for the students.