Open Polytechnic student’s biculturalism assignment picks up library award.

Posted on 3 March 2020

Open Polytechnic Information and Library Studies student Cassidy Grace’s exploration into what biculturalism means led to her winning LIANZA’s Te Pumanawa Award this year.

The award is given to the student of the Open Polytechnic who completes the best piece of work in a bicultural theme in any of the courses which make up the Information and Library Studies major.

Given by LIANZA in conjunction with Te Rōpū Whakahau, the recipient of the annual award is decided by a panel, including a Te Rōpū Whakahau representative. The prize consists of a $200 book voucher, a LIANZA bookplate, a commemorative certificate and a complimentary 12 month LIANZA membership.

“The assignment wanted students to pick two contemporary issues that affected libraries in today's environment providing various viewpoints on these issues. I chose to focus on biculturalism as I thought it was an interesting topic which deals with a range of varying opinions,” says Cassidy.

“I wanted to show what I interpreted biculturalism to mean and the issues New Zealanders are faced with as a result. I wanted to look at those who felt biculturalism was still relevant in New Zealand and those who felt that New Zealand was now becoming more multicultural and how these affected different people. I felt that by understanding both views it would help librarians to prepare and tailor the services they provide to meet the needs of the differing views of New Zealanders.”

Cassidy decided to work towards a BA in Information and Library Studies because she wanted the opportunity to work in a library and thought the degree would be a good way to get a “foot in the door” as she re-entered the workforce after having two children.

“I completed a BA in History and English Studies at Victoria University. I thought by adding the Information and Library Studies degree it would enhance the qualifications I already have,” she says.

The Open Polytechnic is the main provider of undergraduate qualifications for library and information studies, and all courses are delivered by distance. Distance learning was the best choice for Cassidy because she liked the flexibility and felt that she learnt better in an environment she was familiar and comfortable in.

“I especially liked the notion that I could study and complete assignments at times when it suited me for example while my children slept or were at daycare. It meant that studying could fit around the needs of my children rather than the other way around,” she adds.

“Another advantage for me was being able to have all the class notes and reading provided for you so you could decide how much time you needed to spend on each module. I also liked not having to go to lectures and tutorials and could work through the modules at my own pace.”

Cassidy says she found her lecturers very helpful.

“I did contact my lecturers. I found they were always helpful and quick to reply if I had any concerns or questions. I found this really impressive especially since I wasn't in a position to talk to them face to face in a classroom situation like you could at university or other polytechnics,” she says.

While the best benefit of studying for Cassidy has been getting a job, she also feels it has been good role-modelling for her children.

“Another benefit would be that I can be seen as a role model for my children demonstrating that if you work hard at something you can accomplish your goals,” she says.

“I feel that one day I would like to do a Masters in Library Studies but I first want to spend more time working and gaining work experience. I also want to spend more time with my children as they are starting school and growing up so quickly. I also wouldn't mind writing a Young Adult novel or a children's picture book but I think that is every librarians or English majors dream.”