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Tuesday 1 November 2011

Tai tokerau taniwha rau #lianza11 #p10

Cherie Tautolo and Bernd Martin
Tai tokerau taniwha rau: empowering library patrons to achieve

Te Tai Tokerau campus
Sylvia-Ashton Warner Library (located between railway track and intermediate school, next to high school fields) - primarily supports Faculty of Education (three Education degrees offered), 868 students, over 3/4 extramural. 52% are under 30 years old; 48% percent over. 50% Māori, 50% non-Māori. Presentation focuses on on-campus group.

Need to focus on retention/success especially for equity groups including mature students, those from rural, low socioeconomic backgrounds.

Mere's story

Equity of access in libraries - barriers
Personal, Institutional, Societal (refering to Gorman (2000) p135 - thanks @greengecko29)
Need to think about what we have control over, can improve.

Need a layout that makes ethnic minorities more comfortable. Ghastly painting replaced with tapa cloth. Some may have little experience with libraries/academic libraries. Need to make our purpose and roles clear to patrons. Some patrons have experiences of racism or marginalisation so especially need to be made comfortable. They've moved the reference collection to create a more open space. Grouped tables to create discussion area for laptops. Photocopier, laminator, etc in one area. Moving further back in the library gets quieter - self-regulated.

Collection reflects needs of users. Māori readers - project underway to reclassify these (cf RS2 session this afternoon about this). Small reference collection - only core bit left. Short loan collection is open access in same area.
Information literacy workshops - work with student learning people to have tie-in lectures: eg first student learning workshop then library workshop. Try not to be authoritarian, invite input from group where possible to build rapport. Groups can be large, sometimes 20+. Remind that people can come back for followup/one-on-one - helps them to relax if feeling it's too fast.

Relationships - especially with student but also faculty and support staff. Make the librarians' role more effective and easier. Personal approach to greeting patrons - learning names - and greeting in Māori when comfortable. Body language especially important! Move away from desk when appropriate. Culturally appropriate acknolwedgement means feeling respected and valued. Taking interest in students as people means better able to serve them. Had a relationship with a student so could ask why they hadn't seen him - he replied saying everyone seemed to know what they're doing so he was embarrassed not to. Gave the opportunity to show him around - and 10 minutes later he was showing one of his friends around.

Reciprocity - students aren't the only beneficiary of relationships. Students gathered outside library one day to sing Happy Birthday to Cherie in English and Māori. Another time presented her with a card to support her in her illness. Received a gift of a kete from a graduating student. Gets offered a ride home when raining. A feed of oysters!

Students feel uncomfortable when lack of Māori students and staff. Need to normalise the presence of Māori students and staff. Eg get classes brought in, student discussion groups.

Silence - some people uncomfortable with silence - feels unwelcoming, cold, formal. Different spaces important - need gathering spaces - noise of discussion can feel more welcoming.

Participation in campus events - because small campus often involved in things that aren't technically library purview. Reinforces relationships and contributes to campus life. Food plays a big role!

Empowered students achieve.

Q: You have good support from faculty to get library courses embedded - did that take a long time? Course programmes so tight we can't muscle in.
A: Sometimes have to work on it but mostly they're good. Mostly the reciprocal thing - goes two ways.

Q: When moving out into campus activities is the library closed? Tension between participating and keeping library open when poorly staff.
A: At powhiri time (before semester starts), everyone's expected to close and go. Other times would stay open.