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One Day for Iowa 2024: Support advanced student employees like Lizzi with the University Librarian’s Student Employee Fund

Lizzi Ayers is a student worker in Conservation and Collections Care.

For One Day for Iowa 2024, we’re highlighting the new University Librarian’s Student Employee Fund, which will create more opportunities for advanced student employees to enhance skills, bolster career-development goals, or pursue special interests. These are students like Lizzi Ayers, whose job in Conservation and Collections Care at the University of Iowa Libraries has set her on a path toward a career in library science.

Ayers first began working at the UI Main Library two years ago, early in her undergraduate career. Like many incoming students, she wasn’t certain where her career path would lead, and library science wasn’t yet on her list of options. But as Ayers worked closely with the UI Libraries staff, she soon realized that the field was far more expansive than she’d first thought, and she became confident that the School for Library and Information Science (SLIS) Undergrad to Grad program was the next step for her.  

Ayers is one of the advanced student employees at the UI Libraries, meaning that her work requires specialized training within her field that can often only be achieved with practical experience outside of the classroom. Because she’s enhancing these skills alongside her degree, Ayers will be especially prepared to succeed after graduation. That’s exactly what these roles are designed to do, and the University Librarian’s Student Employment Fund will enable the Libraries to expand that support to more student employees.  

Ayers marks new acquisitions for circulation.

“This fund came about naturally because we observed the creativity and enthusiasm of our student employees,” says Jack B. King University Librarian John Culshaw, who was once a student library worker himself. “So many of them are eager to grow their skillset and apply it to more specific and challenging aspects of library work. The future of libraries and archives really belongs to them, so we’re happy to give them the chance to follow their curiosity.” 

On an average day, Ayers spends her time in collections care, marking new acquisitions to prepare them for circulation. It’s satisfying work, she says, to know that she is beginning a book’s journey into the hands of an interested reader. Each book’s edges are stamped with “University of Iowa Libraries,” and the item is officially welcomed into the catalog. Those already reserved go straight to the hold shelf to be picked up by the campus and local communities. Print books are still used heavily by some disciplines even though the majority of Libraries’ resources are digital.

For the past two years, Ayers has been selected for different UI Libraries’ student employee scholarships, the Judy and Mike Greer Scholarship in Memory of Mary E. Greer and a UI Libraries Employee Scholarship, in recognition of her contributions to the department. Ayers says that these scholarships have taken some financial pressure off her undergraduate experience, enabling her to focus on her studies without needing to consider a second job.

Ayers hopes that she’ll have a chance to work on cataloging next, an area that interests her as she looks ahead. “It’s been really cool,” says Ayers. “Getting the job here, I was able to see all the different positions you could have in a library, places where I could fit.”

To support more advanced positions for students like Ayers, consider donating to the One Day for Iowa University Librarian’s Student Employee Fund at