From education to employment

Inspirational college librarian wins national award

Senior Library Assistant Emma Luby

She has supported students through the most challenging times of their lives, creating friendly online communities and uniting people in the love of reading.

And now Bradford College (@BradfordCollege) Senior Library Assistant Emma Luby has achieved the Jeff Cooper Inspirational Information Professional of the Year Award.

She received the recognition from the Council for Learning Resources in College (CoLRiC), a national organisation representing librarians and learning resource professionals across the UK.

In addition, Bradford College Library was commended for its Online Readers groups, in which English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) students were encouraged to develop their reading skills via Microsoft Teams.

Library manager Lakshmi Banner, leader of the team who nominated Emma for the top award, praised her “Enthusiasm, resourcefulness … commitment to staff development, and … focus on student achievement.” She said: “Emma has been creative, dedicated and has provided opportunities to our students which otherwise may have been unavailable to them this year. Very many congratulations to Emma.”

Emma become senior library assistant in January 2020, and the majority of her time has been finding innovative ways to support students and colleagues during the pandemic. Lakshmi said: “These challenging circumstances have brought her talents to the fore: enthusiasm, resourceful, a commitment to staff development and a focus on student achievement.”

During lockdown, Emma asked library assistants to identify online resources, websites and videos on activities such as photography, crafts and cooking. These resources, which encouraged students to explore their creativity, were uploaded onto an online guide and promoted through social media channels.

To support some of the college’s most vulnerable students, Emma co-managed the library’s postal loan service and the on-site reservation service to retrieve books for students who were back on site.

From March this year she began managing the online reading sessions for ESOL students. Together with the library assistants, the students, aged between 16 and 18, read adventure stories and detective mysteries among other tales over Microsoft Teams.

In her submission, Lakshmi said:

“From April, we were asked to host some work experience students which raised challenges regarding social distancing. Emma managed this by creating projects that students worked on independently, with support when needed.”

The placements offered opportunities to a variety of students, including those with additional learning needs, with one of them asking if he could come back to the library as an apprentice. ESOL students also had half-day placements. Lakshmi added; “As well as other tasks, we asked them to run marketing projects to promote the online readers. Emma assigned each student with a library assistant who trained them. Emma said she felt this gave library assistants an opportunity to build on their own skills and knowledge.

Emma said:

“I’m so proud of the support my manager and the team have shown in taking on tasks that have been asked of them. The students have been unbelievable. We all get so much out of working together.

“The response we have had from students has been overwhelming and they have talked about how much we have helped them.”

She said she wanted to use her skills to help students who had felt isolated or unsupported in lockdown. She said:

“Without that day to day contact that they’re so used to, I started to think how we could carry on that contact. I wanted to fill in those gaps.

“I could really feel, from talking to students, they were missing each other so much. It was nice to share ideas and have discussions every week and help them with their reading.

“I’m looking forward to what we can do this year and know we can go even further. There’s lots of things we can do.”

Currently Emma is working with students from Project SEARCH, which provides young people with learning difficulties with the opportunity gain work experience to increase their chance of securing meaningful paid employment.

Lakshmi said:

“It wouldn’t be the same library without Emma.”

Bradford College students have access to our state-of-the-art library resources. They include dedicated work spaces and computer rooms for independent study and a vast collection of educational books, magazines and online resources. Library Services are here to help students find resources both physically and online to help with their course.

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