Meet Your Library Staff
In this edition of Meet Your Library Staff, we are featuring Kevin Tanner, our Coordinator of Information Literacy and Instruction and Liaison for Learner and Academic Services.
Are you a native Calgarian? If not, how did you choose to live here in Calgary?
I am not a native Calgarian! I’m originally from Windsor, Ontario and like many, I moved here for work. Specifically, I moved here for a contract at the Reg Erhardt Library which was extended and then made permanent. I am very grateful that I didn’t have to uproot and move away after my contract as I enjoy many aspects of living in Calgary – big city with a small city feel (although not all the time!) and very similar to Windsor in a lot of ways.
To the surprise of many, Calgary does actually have four distinct seasons. Do you have a favourite season and why is it your favourite?
This might cause some heads to spin but I think winter is my favourite. I don’t even participate in any winter activities! I get a bit cagey in the winter being stuck inside - which is especially pronounced now during a pandemic – but I can’t stand the heat of the summer. I was tricked into believing that a south facing apartment was a good option because “it’s so sunny” but it’s killer during the summer.
If I had a personal A/C bubble that I could walk around in, then it would be summer. Here’s hoping those exist in the future so I can move somewhere warm year round…although that would require moving out of Canada (Vancouver doesn’t count as warm because of all the rain!).
What makes you happy?
Helping people. I don’t know what it is, but I feel extreme gratification after helping a student or faculty member with their research needs. It’s always a good feeling to see them starting to get something or to see them light up with joy when you find that elusive source that they needed. I became a librarian because of my desire to help, and I feel grateful that I am in a profession that is focused on serving communities of people seeking information.
How has the Library changed since you started working here?
I’ve only worked at SAIT since 2016, but I’ve seen huge shifts in how the rest of the campus perceives the Library. I get the impression that we’ve always had a great reputation on campus (and long term staff can attest to that), but we have started to really carve out our place on campus as the academic hub for students, faculty, and staff. In recent years, the Library has been more involved in institutional initiatives which allows us to position ourselves as both a support service and an essential resource for learning and teaching. We are one of the only departments on campus that directly serves faculty, staff, and students, and I think it’s important that we continue to focus on excelling at serving those groups in the years to come.
If you could enroll in any SAIT program, what would it be?
I’m going to cheat and pick two because it depends on what it would be for – personal interest or professional development.
If I was to choose a program for personal interest (something that has nothing to do with being a librarian), it would be Professional Cooking. I don’t really have a knack for cooking or using my hands in general so I’m not sure how much it would help, but at least I could say I tried. I’d love to learn how to make some of the 4Nines meals like the mashed potato pear!
If it was to choose a program for professional growth, it would probably be the Data Analyst program. It’s a post-diploma certificate so maybe that doesn’t count, but I think everyone would benefit from learning more about how to analyze, interpret, and present data in a meaningful way. As some say, data is the new oil.
When you talk to your friends, family or visitors about SAIT, what do you tell them?
The Marketplace! I’m apparently fawning over the School of Hospitality and Tourism during this post but for good reason. What other post secondary has both baked goods and varieties of meats at reasonable prices? Not many!
Can you tell us a bit about your role on the Instruction and Communication team?
My role as a leader of the team involves lots of listening to people and asking the right questions at the right time. I need to listen to the people on my team to ensure they have the tools and support they need for their work. I need to listen to the other librarians to try to address the challenges they face in their teaching. I need to listen to instructors to understand how we can support them. Perhaps most importantly, I need to listen to students to ensure they are learning the skills they will need for success in their chosen industries.
Why is information literacy important for students at an applied learning institution?
It’s not just important, it’s essential! Every one of us engages with information on a near daily basis for personal reasons, and likely several times a day for professional reasons. It’s important to have both information literacy skills (e.g the ability to find information), knowledge (e.g. what information exists and why), and habits (e.g. the habit of seeking out many different points of views on a topic).
I think lots of people think information literacy is too “critical thinking” based so it isn’t as necessary in an applied learning context. However, I’d argue the deliberate inclusion of information literacy skills in an applied learning curriculum is more important than in a program that focuses on disciplinary practices in academia only. Although some programs need information literacy more than others, all students will benefit from honing their information literacy skills.
Are there some specific methods/techniques that you use to help foster students’ digital and information literacy?
Since we are an applied learning institution, we try to make our instruction reflect real world scenarios – sometimes, this comes in the form of a problem; other times, it comes in the form of a requirement. Overall, we ensure that what we do still focuses on the applied learning context. That doesn’t mean there isn’t room for the “why”, but we do try to focus on the “what” and the “how”.
Do you have any advice for new students at SAIT?
Reach out for help! I am a hypocrite as I didn’t start reaching out for help until my third year of post-secondary studies, but I am glad I did. SAIT has wonderful supports for students, not only in the Library, but at the Lamb Learner Success Centre, Student Counselling and Development, and more. Even if you don’t think you need help, you’ll probably still find help in the staff at SAIT.