This month, our 7 Questions with AAAL Institutions features SAIT.
1. What is the most interesting/unique item or collection in your library?
Technically this isn’t a collection *yet* but we’re working on it for the coming year… We’ll be applying for an internal grant focused on mental health to fund a collection of “focus tools” – equipment that supports low sensory or sensory friendly environments. Think: noise cancelling headphones and weighted lap blankets. We got the idea after hearing about a similar collection at Grand Valley State University in Michigan, and it aligns well with current institutional initiatives. Plus, it’ll enable students to create a quiet, focused environment almost anywhere in the Library!
2. What event are you most proud of hosting at your institution or library?
I’m going to tweak this one a bit too (this might be a theme…) but the answer to this one is more about a few library staff members who’s accomplishments were recently featured at an annual SAIT event. Every year, the institution hosts the Star Awards to recognize excellent work done by SAIT employees. The Library had a banner year with Kevin Tanner, Coordinator for Instruction, winning the Oracle Award for Excellence for his work promoting understanding and adoption of information literacy across campus; and Corrinna Meidinger and Alison Hart, Library Technicians, won the Innovation Award for Technical Implementation for developing an automated data distribution workflow that fulfilled almost 2000 requests for geospatial data (this was an unanticipated 274% increase in requests from the previous year!). Another of our Library Technicians, Kristian McInnis, was nominated for the Alumni Employee Award of Excellence for his professional success since graduating from SAIT and for all that he’s done to support LIT students in their academic and professional pursuits.
So it wasn’t exactly *our* event, but the Library had a strong showing and we’re very proud of our colleagues.
3. What has been a recent change for your institution or library?
In May 2018, SAIT adopted an institutional Open Educational Resources (OER) policy. Jessica Norman, eLearning Librarian, was instrumental in the creation and adoption of the policy. Since then, she’s created a workflow for OER creation; assisted in the adoption of OERs across math, statistics, chemistry, physics, transportation, and communications courses; consulted on a successful grant application for creating OER; developed OER training material for SAIT faculty and staff; worked closely with SAIT Student Association to establish an Open Educator award for faculty; and worked with partners in Alberta and throughout Canada. Jessica’s dedication to this work has inspired the kind of institutional change that often takes much longer and her work is, quite literally, paying off – adoption of OER textbooks has already saved students over $330,000.
4. What was the last major project your library or institution undertook?
By our standards, the recent redesign of our Information Desk was pretty major! We used almost entirely existing material to shrink the footprint of our single service point to about one-third what it used to be. With the consolidated workspace, staff don’t have to move as far to access mediated (and high demand) collections like course textbooks and laptops, and it is much less confusing to our patrons where they should line up and approach for assistance. By freeing up so much floor space, we will be able to bring in some new display shelving near the entrance of the Library and create a seating area for Writing Centre staff to take appointments directly adjacent to the Info Desk. The project itself was relatively small in terms of budget and timeline, but the changes to our workflows and how we think about service definitely qualify as major! Our User Services team was instrumental in the design and implementation of this project.
5. What is the newest database/product your library has subscribed to?
It’s not exactly the newest (I told you I’d be tweaking things), but in January 2019 SAIT’s School of Business purchased four Bloomberg terminals and opted to put two of them in the Library. We excitedly agreed and set them up as dual monitor workstations and they quickly saw such a volume of use that we added them to our LibCal booking system so students can reserve them. In order to provide basic support, Luke Malone, Collections Librarian, worked with School of Business faculty to get basic training and ensure that Library staff can answer questions and troubleshoot for students.
6. What is the oldest item in your collection?
Technically, this photograph is from our SAIT Archives, but the Archives is a beloved and much used department within the Library so we wanted to highlight it. Formerly known as the Provincial Institute of Technology and Art (PITA), SAIT opened its doors October 16, 1916 to 11 students enrolled in three programs – mechanics, metals and woodwork.The school was temporarily located in the Colonel Walker building, until 1922 when it relocated to its permanent home on the hill overlooking downtown Calgary. This photograph was taken in 1918 in front of the Colonel Walker School of the second class of tractor and automotive students.
7. What’s a recent team-building activity/event you’ve done for library staff?
Every year in June, we close the Library for one day for our annual Professional Development Day. This year, we all completed DiSC assessments (https://www.discprofile.com/what-is-disc/overview/) and spent the morning learning about our individual DiSC styles, associated strengths and areas for growth, and strategies for communicating with others based on their profiles. Interestingly, we have a high proportion of Cs in our library – these are Conscientious individuals who place emphasis on quality, accuracy, expertise, and competency. After our DiSC workshop, we took the train down to SAIT’s Taste Market campus for lunch and a tour. We then continued on for a special tour of the new Central Library in downtown Calgary. All in all, it was a great day!