Kia ora koutou katoa. I’m Catherine Doughty and I lead information literacy (IL) teaching at Whitireia Library. I have taught IL at a high school library, at public libraries, and at Whitireia, taking every opportunity to introduce IL skills to children, teens, adults and older adults. Ten years ago I upgraded my library qualifications to an MLIS, investigating collaborative relationships between academic tutors and their librarians. I found then that collaborative teaching of IL is one of the most effective ways that librarians can contribute to student learning achievement. I am certain that being part of the Information Literacy Spaces project is going to move us further toward that goal at Whitireia and indeed for all New Zealand secondary and tertiary educational institutions.
Ask a layperson what a library is, and they will tell you it’s a building filled with books. What does an academic library do, then, to support its students when the building and its entire print book and journal collections are made unavailable? This was the dilemma facing Whitireia Library after the November 2016 earthquake. Staff or students have not been allowed to enter the building for several months. We found some solutions in our staff expertise and systems, and we are told the physical problems we still face on a daily basis won’t be for much longer.
The lack of print resources was not the only challenge facing the library staff and students. Students have also missed their library space and access to computers. Our solution was to bring the library services to the students. Library staff have provided daily assistance to Whitireia students migrating to the local public library, only minutes away, in pursuit of study space and wifi. We are also on duty at other student spaces around the campus such as the Student Hub and the Ako Ake Pacific learners’ spaces. Although challenging at times, this situation has pulled the library team closer together and our commitment to our students is as strong as ever.
These days most students own a mobile device and can be seen in large numbers with them on campus. Without our library training room and computers, many IL sessions have taken place in classrooms with students bringing their laptops to class. Without our print books and journals available, these IL sessions have focused primarily on online resources, promoting the new ebook collections as our main focus to the academic programmes. Our new impetus to spread the word on ebooks, born of necessity, has been received with great enthusiasm and demand.
In the past, I believe that students found it easier to borrow print books and not to have to negotiate technology to read them. Perhaps students have been ignorant to them and our ebook promotions have not been vigorous enough? Our high usage statistics for the book collections definitely supports these reasons. Interestingly it is the functionality of the ebooks that now makes it easier for students to evaluate them for learning and assignment purposes. Creating virtual bookshelves has proved popular with students, as has been off-campus access to our collections. I think this experience will permanently change our practices with teaching and referring students to ebooks given greater priority than before. I imagine it will also change students views as well, and I expect to see more of them purchasing e-textbooks now they have had experienced their benefits.