Document Type

Contribution to Book


Library and Information Science


Academic libraries have always been involved in student learning, but our profession has perhaps failed to recognize that the students who work for us every day are likely the ones we can impact the most. Librarians and library staff have a tremendous opportunity to contribute to the professional growth of the students they employ. Historically, academic libraries have defined student learning in terms of librarian instruction, collections, and providing study space. While these remain important aspects of what libraries do, student employees benefit from intentional, empowered roles and, in turn, libraries are enriched when student employees take on leadership roles.

When walking into the Mary Idema Pew Library at Grand Valley State University, students surround you. As you walk through the library's main corridor, students are staffing the service desk on your right, and the Knowledge Market on your left is bustling with students engaged in peer consultations. Professional staff are not visible. To students entering the building for the first time, the immediate impression is that students are front and center within the facility. Placing students in these leadership roles visually cues student patrons that the space is theirs and encourages them to manage their own learning. Additionally, this model provides high-impact learning experiences for the student employees themselves and positions them to make significant contributions to the library.

Research consultants and user experience (UX) student assistants are the two groups of student employees that serve as the front face of library services in the Mary Idema Pew Library. UX students staff the single service desk, and research consultants provide one-on-one peer consultations in the Knowledge Market. Both groups perform high-level work not traditionally entrusted to student employees.


Original Citation:

Meyer, K., & Torreano, J. (2017). The Front Face of Library Services: How Student Employees Lead the Library at Grand Valley State University. In Students Lead the Library: The Importance of Student Contributions to the Academic Library (pp. 39–55). Chicago, IL: Association of College and Research Libraries. Retrieved from