The Library’s student employee team members consistently rise to the occasion, tackling projects that are not only intricate but will have a meaningful impact on Library spaces long after graduation.
Being a student is busy and hard work. MRU Library is fortunate to have countless highly skilled and talented students apply to work various positions, while pursuing their studies, that support the greater MRU Community. Projects like a custom web application, mapping data, and a process to track the user experience have been led by ambitious undergrads.
An appetite to improve the status quo
Shuntian Li, who also goes by “Eddie”, is a true self-starter. The 4th year Computer Information Systems student has created an app that tracks the use of Library spaces, which ultimately provides insight on staffing, hours, and allocation of Library resources. When Li is asked to speak to the process he took to draft, design and program the app, the 24-year-old buzzes with excitement as he explains the countless hours he has spent combing through online resources to teach himself Swift—a programing language required to complete the project. This is the first app Li has ever created but he was recommended for this position by his professors who recognized his potential. He says has genuinely enjoyed being able to apply many of the teachings he’s received through his courses and acquire a specific skill that will help him as he builds his career.
“I knew this would be a good chance to learn something new. I wanted to take that challenge,” says Li.
The international student originally from Zhongshan, China is currently training Library staff on how to use and export data from the app that allows them to easily enter and track the amount of users in the Library, which informs how Library spaces are used. The ability to track this information digitally is very necessary since the Library moved from the Lincoln Park Campus building to a 16,000-square-metre space in the Riddell Library and Learning Centre in 2017.
“Our current head counting system with paper and pencil worked fine with our old simple Library layout”, says Beverly Van Horne, Library Public Services Manager. “We now we have 4 floors of Library spaces to track our users, including 31 bookable group rooms, and we needed a better process to capture that data. This new head counting app that Eddie has developed will be more accurate, allow us to use the information more creatively by grouping like spaces together to determine types of usage, and will be much easier and quicker for those collecting the data.”
Spot a problem, be the solution
Zoe Slusar is an engaged student who absolutely loves the journey she’s on here at MRU. Slusar is one of many student staff members who work on the Library Service Desk and her goal is simple: help other students access the countless resources available in the Library while doing her part to improve campus life for current and future peers.
As a student entering her final year at MRU, she has carved out many opportunities to volunteer and work with a variety of departments and groups across campus and she admits that she couldn’t resist a chance to work in the Library when she was offered a position as a Service Desk Casual shortly after the grand opening of the Riddell Library and Learning Centre last September.
”I feel like [the Library] is a legacy space on campus. I tell my parents that I prolonged my degree because I needed to use the new Library”, says Slusar with a laugh.
She’s lighthearted and has a sense of humour as she thinks back on everything she’s been a part of on campus that will end with her attaining her degree in June 2019. But when Slusar speaks to her role on the Library Service Desk, the Anthropology major comes across as measured, focused and confident about what she and her peers can achieve.
Slusar has taken the initiative to propose a system that involves her and fellow students who work on the Service Desk to strategically gather feedback from Library users as they are helped during the checkout process or throughout the building. Slusar noticed that student staff members who typically work a few shifts a week, in the evenings, have a particular advantage when it comes to observing and relating to Library users during night shifts since it is mostly students working on assignments.
”We’re staff who are connecting with the customers because we have also shared that lived experience. That’s a really special relationship,” says Slusar. “We know what it’s like if a paper is due and you can’t print it.”
Slusar’s proposal is simple: a process to record feedback, comments, concerns, and positive remarks that students often feel comfortable sharing with someone they may have had a class with. She’s confident this process, which is currently being put in place, will allow for the Library and the general MRU Community to hear suggestions on how to maintain or adjust elements of campus life that will help to improve students’ experience on campus.
“I’m thrilled to have Zoe as part of our casual Library team,” says Denise Upton, Library Evening/Weekend Supervisor. “She is a wonderful ambassador for the Library and MRU as a whole, and truly cares about student success. Her positivity is infectious and makes the Library a welcoming place for all.”
From the classroom to the office
As a new graduate with a Bachelor of Computer Information Systems degree, Mark Ladoing is now starting a new chapter after completing a major accomplishment. He secured his first information technology (IT) position all before he walked the graduation stage.
Ladoing, 23, worked with the Library Information Systems team as an Information Technology Assistant for a four month work term, which he completed this past April, and was a requirement for his program. It was an introduction to the real world application of what he was learning in classes since he was tasked with projects that allow digital spaces in the Library to run efficiently as well as data recording that will help direct maintenance priorities for the Library website.
Ladoing, who is incredibly detail oriented, tracked and recorded the responsiveness of each page on the Library website, which will allow the design elements to be evaluated and potentially updated in an effort to connect them to various devices.
He also worked on scripts, a sequence of code, to assist with presentations being displayed properly on the Visualization Wall in the Ideas Lounge. Ladoing, who first started his degree program in 2013, also assisted with programming that will allow the Library to include wayfinding for users in LibrarySearch— the newly launched online search platform.
“Initially when I started working here I was so nervous,” explains Mark, who describes himself as reserved. “As time went on I was able to open up more and it became easier for me to collaborate with everyone.”
Ladoing reflects on this work placement and adds that it felt good to be part of a team that wants him to succeed. He is now back in his hometown of Strathmore, Alberta and looks forward to securing his next IT position.
A Librarian from the University of Arkansas and a visual artist from Montreal will spend two weeks working on a project in the MRU Library Maker Studio that is meant to conjure questions with no definite answers—It’s all part of the fun.
What is art? What is art worth? How should we access it?
These are some of the questions Marianne R. Williams and Frédéric Bigras-Burrogano hope attendees of their upcoming exhibit ponder. The two make up Long Distance Call, a collective that is a member of the Wreck City artist residency. The Wreck City Public Exhibition kicks off in Marda Loop this weekend and the duo are busy taking found objects and recreating them using equipment in the Maker Studio.
A corkscrew and empty perfume bottle found in the streets of Marda Loop, and a fork from a restaurant in the area are either being reproduced with the help of a 3D printer or revamped with a laser cutter. Williams and Burrogano invite members of the community to attend the exhibit, engage with this found art, and offer money or exchange for a piece to take home.
“People can offer a price, an item of their own to trade, or simply answer a few questions to keep a piece,” says Williams who explains that it’s not about the money, it’s about allowing the public to question and consider the process of bartering and how art is consumed. It’s also a conscious way to make art accessible to everyone.
Wreck City was founded in 2013 as an independent collective that organizes experimental contemporary art exhibitions in pre-demolition spaces throughout Calgary. This multi-venue exhibition, which takes place July 27 – August 12, falls in line with this mandate as the Long Distance Call exhibit will be hosted at a site in Marda Loop that will soon be an area of construction where a 70-unit residential and retail building will be located.
Williams and Burrogano say the exhibit is meaningful in that it allows their work to be part of a larger conversation around gentrification, conservation and how we respond to space surrounding us. They acknowledge that a project like this wouldn’t be possible without the support of the development company that’s allowing the artists to utilize the area before construction begins and a key resource close by that gives them a space to fully realize their vision.
“This project couldn’t have been possible without this Maker Studio. It’s the best one in the city and everyone here has been so welcoming,” says Burrogano.
Maker Studio Specialist, Kerry Harmer graciously receives the duo’s gratitude but makes a point to acknowledge how she’s able to push the boundaries of the year old space with diverse projects.
“Having artists in the Maker Studio is a learning experience for Maker Studio staff because artists push the technologies to their limits in order to achieve experimental and unexpected outcomes,” explains Harmer. “This kind of experimentation allows us to learn about our tools with the artist.”
At the end of this week, Burrogano will go back home to Montreal and Williams will head to Fayetteville where she works as a Librarian-in-Residence at the University of Arkansas. Williams has conducted research on information literacy, diversity, and inclusion.
The Long Distance Call exhibit will play off the standard garage sale model and will take place at 2240 33 Avenue SW, this Friday, July 27 at 7pm. Money collected through sales will be donated to an organization in the community.
Meagan Bowler, Dean, University Library announces the appointment of Francine May as Associate Dean, Collections and Digital Services, effective July 1, 2018.
May has held various positions in public and academic libraries for over 15 years and has excelled in leadership positions here at MRU. She has a clear understanding of the challenges and opportunities that arise for libraries and has proven herself in times of significant change and high stake transitions.
Experienced in collection development, technology deployment, and library technical services, May enters into the position after serving in an interim role for the last 10 months. During this time she has overseen the launch of a new library management platform, where she worked closely with members from MRU’s Information Technology Services team to implement this platform, which allows the MRU Library to streamline services and access to resources for students and faculty.
“Holding a variety of faculty and leadership roles within this Library has allowed me to easily recognize what sets it apart from other post-secondary institutions.” says May. “I’m excited to continue working with both the collections and digital services teams, leading the work of ensuring these crucial resources, technologies, and expertise are integrated into the work of campus and available to our current and prospective students, faculty and staff.”
Dedicated to teaching and learning, May teaches in the Library’s information literacy program and taught for a number of years as a GNED instructor. She also serves on Mount Royal’s Human Research Ethics board and had served on the executive committee of the Foothills Library Association and the Alberta Association of College Librarians. May’s research focuses on better understanding the role that libraries as physical spaces play in the lives of their users.
She holds a Master in Library and Information Studies from Dalhousie University, Master in Science and Technology Studies from Universiteit van Amsterdam and a Bachelor in Physical Geography from the University of Lethbridge.