The Library and Learning Commons continues to operate under our 2013-2020 strategic plan, and will create a new plan following the rollout of the College’s strategic and academic plans. Whether stepping into our physical space or exploring our online presence, the Library is a vital partner in academic excellence and student success – a hub for the intellectual, cultural, and social life of the Langara community.
In April 2020 we were in the midst of adjusting our services and collections to ensure we could continue to support students and instructors through the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout this year, the Library collaborated with instructors, students, and the rest of the Langara community to ensure instructional continuity and academic supports for students. The Library and Learning Commons also continued to work on initiatives long part of our ethos.
In November 2019, the BC provincial government passed legislation to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), which the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) confirms as the framework for reconciliation. Langara Library is committed to upholding the principles outlined by the TRC and UNDRIP. In 2021, the library published its first status report monitoring its efforts.
In 2020, the Langara Library, Open Langara (Langara’s Open Education Advisory Committee), and The LaIR introduced the Langara Open Student Scholar Prize. The prize celebrates exemplary work being done by Langara students and offers them the opportunity to share their work in an open access format. In spring 2021, the Library jointly ran the Open Student Scholar Prize for the second time with almost double the number of submissions as well as an increase in instructor-nominated projects.
The Library and Learning Commons was very involved in the Emergency Operations Committee COVID Recovery group that looked at ways to improve student academic supports, to highlight and promote existing resources, and to develop services to fill in the gaps. Many of the Library’s services and resources already had online components that served us well for the transition to online and we used technology, our expertise, and our collaborative skills to best help our students, faculty, and instructional staff through a very challenging year.
As with all libraries, the way we interact with students changed dramatically this past year. Notably, our robust research and tutoring services shifted completely online. Langara students were the fourth highest users of AskAway during the 2020/21 and the Library team committed to connecting with our students in this online environment. Of the 3,600 Langara students who accessed AskAway during this past year, 80% interacted with a Langara librarian or reference assistant. Students with more in-depth research questions, or simply those who prefer to discuss their research “face to face,” can now book Zoom appointments with subject librarians. Subject librarians continued to develop assignment guides and asynchronous learning objects via our LibGuides platform which increased 30%; in addition, online tutorials rose by 15% from last year and 74% from five years ago.
The Library has invested heavily in its online collections in recent years, which served us well during the transition to online learning. During the early months of the pandemic, the Library added a new filter to its Quick Topic Search to make finding e-books easier. The physical collection remained accessible since the start of the COVID-19 shutdown in a way that maintained proper health protocols. After submitting a request for an item in the collection using our online form, students and staff are notified when the requested items are available for contactless pick-up. All materials can then be returned to the Library’s outdoor book drop. We were able to fill 2,208 requests (down 95% from previous years). Following copyright compliance guidelines, we also initiated a chapter scanning service.
The Learning Commons (first floor of the library) is typically bustling with activity, energy, and collaboration and we look forward to the future when we can again interact with our students in person. Realizing the challenge of not having in-person cues for the various service points, we developed, in collaboration with the Langara Student Success Course team and our learning commons partners, a Virtual Learning Support (VLS) service, striving to connect students with tutoring and services that have moved online.
Langara’s first ever Long Night Against Procrastination (LNAP) was held virtually on Zoom in spring 2021. Peer tutors, research librarians, and faculty helped students get started with writing assignments and studying, and attendees could join breakout rooms for games and other relaxation activities to provide an energy boost. We offered hourly prizes that included tuition vouchers and door prizes to welcome the attendees. 28 faculty, staff, peer tutors, and student volunteers assisted the 85 attendees that participated in the event. Over 81% of respondents to the post-event survey found the experience useful in helping them prepare for assignments and/or de-stress. In response, the second LNAP has been scheduled for summer 2021.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you and the wonderful people who are the heart of the Library Services and Learning Commons at Langara. Although I am retiring as of August 1, 2021, I know that great things are on the horizon led by Debbie Schachter, Director, Library Services and Learning Commons as our new strategic plan is developed and we venture into a different and better era.
Please take the time to explore the Library and Learning Commons’ annual report, reflecting again upon a year of activities, events, and challenges met. Underlying the report is the hard work, collegiality, and enthusiasm of librarians and library technicians who strive to ensure students succeed at Langara.
Director, Academic Innovation
This Annual Report highlights the Library's successes within the context of the 5 themes identified in the Langara Library and Learning Commons Strategic Plan, 2013-2020:
Looking toward the coming year, the Library will be tackling several key initiatives: