Meet your Library Staff: Instruction & Communication
I&C Team Members: Alison & Kevin
- Can you tell us a bit about what your team does in the Library?
The Instruction & Communication (I&C) team has two main areas of focus (as implied by the name). On the instruction side of things, we help teach students how to find and access the best information for their assignments and projects. We do this by partnering with instructors to develop information literacy requirements in their programs and courses; by teaching instructional sessions in their classrooms, both in-person and online; and by creating instructional content such as guides and e-learning modules.
On the communications side of things, our work is both set in the physical and digital space of the Library. In the physical space, we work on developing displays and exhibits that represent and relate to our diverse student body. We also work on signage within the Library.
These two areas converge in how we provide self help tips and guides to students. Teaching students also involves instruction in technical topics like how to use our printers, and we try to provide a variety of options for support – although our helpful staff are always there, we want to make sure that students can walk themselves through the process if they prefer.
- What is the most rewarding aspect of this type of library work?
The most rewarding aspect is being able to reach our community through both aspects of our work. We see students in classes and it’s rewarding to watch them develop throughout their programs into strong researchers. We also reach them in and outside of the library through our promotional efforts. It’s a pleasure to collaborate with students whenever we can on displays related to their school work or their diverse cultural backgrounds.
- What is the most challenging aspect of this type of library work?
The most challenging aspect is reaching our community through both aspects of our work. It’s hard to develop a lesson or create a marketing campaign the speaks to everyone, let alone one that reaches everyone in the intended audience. We try our best and always strive to have open minds about improving our work through evidence based practice and anecdotal experience.
- What is the most common misconception that people have about the Reg Erhardt Library? How do you try to change that perception?
Most people come to SAIT with no academic library experience. Some may have had a high school library and received some information literacy training through that or their other courses, and others may have had experience at public libraries. Although all libraries have similar goals in providing information, students need to use academic libraries in a much different way than they may have in the past. The common misconception stems from their understanding of what a library is; it’s not just a place for books or a place to study. Although we do provide books and study spaces, we are information experts that are attuned to our communities needs and understand what information they will need to use once they get out into industry.
- Can you tell us 3 key messages that you think people should know about the Reg Erhardt Library?
The three key messages that come to mind for our team are:
- The Library is the academic heart of campus. We are here to support you throughout your time at SAIT
- We are more than just books and resources – we’re the people to help you access them.
- Each person has a contact in the Library called a “Library Liaison”. These people have worked with students programs like yours for years and we are attuned to your information needs.
- What is a recent project your team has worked on?
We worked on preparing for a return to work from COVID. This involved creating new signs and updating old signs, planning out our displays and promotional material for the year, and working on messaging for the SAIT Community in collaboration with campus stakeholders. We also updated our Library FAQ, both to ensure the questions were appropriate for students returning to campus and to add help guides for the technology in our physical space.
- What challenges did you or your team have to overcome because of COVID-19? Can you give specific examples of how your team responded to the pandemic?
The biggest challenge for us was making ourselves visible. Many people tie their idea of the Library to the physical space and don’t see all the work that goes on behind the scenes in the Library. The physical space is super important to have for students, but a good share of our work takes place online. We had to make sure to adapt our instructional content to suit the online environment and to provide a stronger online marketing presence. I think we overall succeeded in our efforts, and it will be interesting to see how this next year of a somewhat hybrid approach will play out.
- Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about your team?
Both Kevin and Alison are incredibly similar, which makes working together really enjoyable. We talked about coffee almost every morning while we were working from home – whether we had a good cup of it in the morning or if we needed another. We both are very patron focused in our work, and enjoy collaborating on a variety of projects related to the two main focuses of our team.