Earning While They’re Learning: Getting an Edge on Work

“Earning While They’re Learning” is an occasional series of stories celebrating our library student workers. The Duke University Libraries employ more than 250 undergraduates and graduate students every year, making us one of the largest student employers on campus.

Duke students live busy lives. That’s the name of the game at a university like this. Whether they’re studying, socializing, reading or working, it can sometimes seem like students around here never get a second off their feet.

When it comes to juggling time commitments, though, senior Gabriella Rivera is something of a pro. She’s been working various jobs around campus for the past four years—putting in around 20 hours each week on top of her coursework and other commitments. And at both The Edge and the Perkins Library Service Desk, we’ve been lucky enough to have her since this past spring.

“I like it here,” Bella said when asked about her work. “It’s a relaxed atmosphere… it’s helped me figure out exactly what you can do with the library.”

Before starting work here, Bella explained, she’d never had any experience working in a library. There was definitely something of a learning curve when she was first starting out—though nothing she couldn’t handle.

“I had no idea how it worked when I came in; I was basically starting from scratch,” she said. “When you first start there’s training, but you kind of just learn a lot on the job, too.”

Troubleshooting technology; answering questions; helping people find books, shelve books, look books up online—there’s a lot that goes into Bella’s work. She’s learned a lot about how the Libraries are run and organized, and she says she’s definitely appreciated the expertise it’s given her.

Asked what she likes most about her job, Bella says it’s all about the people. A big part of her job involves helping students iron out problems, and she loves being able to answer people’s questions.

“I like just talking to the people over at the service desk in Perkins and helping them figure out how to use everything here,” she said. “Especially talking to non-Duke students sometimes—it’s nice to break up from just students that you see on campus.”

And even when she’s off of work, Bella enjoys using her skills to help people around her.

“I’ll help my friends if they don’t know what they’re doing in the library,” she said. “I like being able to answer people’s questions both on the desk and off the desk.”

About this Series: Students like Bella are an indispensable part of our library workforce. Their employment provides Duke students with valuable financial aid to support their education, and they learn useful skills that enhance their academic studies and careers after college. This year, to encourage senior giving to the Libraries, George Grody (Associate Professor of Markets and Management Studies) has set up the Grody Senior Challenge. Every gift made by the Class of 2018 to the Libraries Annual Fund will be matched by Professor Grody. All funds will directly support library student workers who provide research and instructional help.

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