Making a Difference for Students: Fund Supports Library Student Employment

From Kennedy Library's 2008 Annual Publication (23MB PDF).

Steve Pearson knows what it's like to be a library student assistant. As a freshman at Cal Poly in 1982, Steve started working in the Learning Resources and Curriculum Department — now the Teachers' Resource Collection — and stayed until he completed his computer science degree.

Steve felt so strongly about his Library experience that he set up a Library Student Assistant Endowment in 2000. The endowment was created for the dual purpose of providing the Kennedy Library with additional student assistant funding and to expand the Library's capacity to employ students. "Gifts that benefit student assistants offer a unique opportunity to touch a student's life and to benefit the Library," says Steve.

Steve Pearson today, with his daughters.

"As a longtime library student assistant, my experiences were broad and challenging. After my supervisor saw my capabilities, she added a number of responsibilities, including cataloging some of the fine art print collections. Cal Poly's Audio Visual department trained me to maintain and do first level repairs on media and AV equipment. My work experience was valuable both for me and for the Library."

Steve's work at the Kennedy Library helped to develop a lifelong interest in libraries. He currently volunteers in the circulation department of the Cedar Mill Community Library, a local nonprofit cooperative community library in Portland, Oregon. He joined their library association board in 2006 and is currently serving as the board secretary.

The Kennedy Library employs more than 50 students every year, at an annual cost of over $180,000. Most units at the Library use student assistants, with jobs ranging from retrieving archival materials in Special Collections to offering technical support in computer labs. Each position offers the student the opportunity to learn a useful skill while also helping them meet the rising costs of a college education. "Working in the library can broaden the scope of a student's education, not only by providing a young person with a unique work experience, but also by exposing them to sources of knowledge," says Michael Miller, Dean of Library Services.

The Library Student Assistant Endowment generates income that is used to fund student employees. "My employment at the Library paid for the bulk of my Cal Poly education expenses," says Steve. "I hope that others will help by making donations to support our student assistants."