Getting Off on the Right Foot: Psychological Contracts, Socialization Theory and Library Student Workers

Publication Title

The Journal of Academic Librarianship

Publication Date


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academic libraries, student employees


Higher Education | Human Resources Management | Library and Information Science | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Training and Development


Academic libraries rely on student employees to manage a wide range of operational areas. Employing students can be beneficial to the library, to the students, and to the library patrons, but there are also challenges in recruiting, training, and supervising a student workforce. In this article, we introduce two frameworks from human resources management that describe and explain new relationships between employees and employers. Psychological contracts are tacitly held expectations by employees and employers that direct attitudes and behaviors about the work, attitudes toward the organization, and interpersonal relationships. Socialization refers to the wide range of tactics that organizations and newcomers may take to adjust to a new work situation. In the article, we first explore each of the constructs and provide a short review of empirical studies that show the relevance of each construct as it pertains to student workers in libraries. We then offer some suggestions for steps library managers can take based on these frameworks to maximize the benefits of the student employee workforce for the students and for the organization.