Collaboration benefits industry and students

Posted on 3 March 2020

Enquiring minds and an openness to new ideas is what makes Open Polytechnic students stand out, says Anita Vandenberghe Librarian at Saint Kentigern College, adding that the knowledge shared by the Information and Library Studies students who have worked with her this year has been a huge benefit to the Auckland- based private school.

“Their input as to what a 21st Century library can do is invaluable. They offer new gadgets and fresh minds. They share what they have learned at the Open Polytechnic and how we could implement and benefit from these new ideas at our College Library. They offer new ways of looking at our library and collection, what can we add, what should we ditch and why,” says Anita.

The opportunity for students to gain work experience while they are studying is invaluable and industry collaborations, like the Open Polytechnic’s collaboration with Saint Kentigern College, is an example of how both industry and students can benefit from workplace experience. Anita took a chance on an Open Polytechnic student who was looking for work experience.

“Contemplating that first request, one of my colleagues mentioned that if she could have gained work experience when she studied towards her qualification two years earlier, it would have helped her so much to understand why we do what we do,” Anita explains.

“It is all about connecting the dots and seeing that every action has a reaction somewhere in the process. It is about transparency and being able to find the material you, the student or teacher is looking for. It is all about understanding the underlying process of research, collating information and making it available, whether it is on paper of digital, via books, internet, electronic databases or Youtube. “

Anita took on the student, not sure what to expect but is glad she did.

“We decided to give the applicant a chance to work with us. We didn’t have a proper training schedule but we showed her what needed to be done. She was fantastic and that made us think that there might be others who would be interested in training with us.”

Anita contacted the Open Polytechnic and over the over the 2013/2014 summer holidays, her team developed a 16-week training programme, which was advertised on the Open Polytechnic’s Information and Library Studies online course forums.

“Within weeks I was interviewing students who had contacted me and who were committed to volunteer their time for half a year. We chose two very dedicated and enthusiastic candidates who started at the beginning of term one and worked with us until the end of June.” Anita now has a steady stream of students currently studying towards their Information and Library Studies qualifications who are hoping to gain some practical experience. Two new applicants have been appointed for terms three and four.

“We aim to show students, as much as possible, what is involved in being a librarian at a modern and well established College library,” says Anita.

“I enjoyed the interaction between the Open Polytechnic students and the librarians. It is inspirational to see when they start connecting the dots and gaining a deeper understanding of the fantastic job we have. We all benefit from our collaboration.”

Anita says dedication is the key to a mutually beneficial collaboration.

“As librarian and trainee you have to be flexible, open minded, enthusiastic and you need to have an enquiring mind. You need to be willing to learn new things, investigate and research but also to do basic jobs as shelving and tidying up,” Anita says.

“That’s part of the package. Being a librarian is not as much about books (though I think every librarian should be an avid reader) as it is about information and where to find it. We are information specialists. We are bridging the gap between searching for quality information and finding it.”