And The Winner is.. How libraries can support students working for a better life on campus

Altruism. I find people who are voluntarily doing things for other people simply because they think it makes a different, one of the most beautiful things in this world. Those people are making the planet a better place to live. All the time. A lot of altruism is going on in higher education and on campus. Students are doing social and educational events, arrange debates, do bars, board game clubs, campus days etc. in order to create a good study environment and great experiences for their peer students.

I think the academic library has a huge stake in students success and well being in higher education; as libraries we are platforms and spaces who support students studies, learning and collaboration and we lack the evaluation and authority of the mother institution which gives us a position, where we can focus on their success without limits but our own imagination and drive for making them the best students they can be. In this context I’ve been thinking about how the library can support the voluntarily spirits and activities on campus and here is one idea: The Study Environmental Award.

The Study Environmental Award is given to students and student organisations who do activities for their peer students in order to make a greater study environment.

The purpose of the award is two-pieced:

1) To honor those students and organisation who is putting effort, energy and good ideas into creating a better study environment

2) To inspire other students to do the same by putting a positive focus on voluntarily actives targeting the study environment on campus.

The concept is simple really: Just like the Oscars and the Grammy’s are events that put praise and focus on the film and music but also the whole industries, The Study Environment Award is meant to both give a big hug and a high-five to the cool students who make an effort to make study life better for everybody but also to open fellow students eyes for the opportunities to contribute.

Two campuses, two libraries, two student councils, two awards

I’m library director for both Roskilde University Library and Faculty Library of Social Sciences at Copenhagen University Library and we have created a Study Environment Award on both campuses. We haven’t done it alone. Both at Roskilde University and Faculty of Social Sciences we have teamed up with the student councils which have a shared interest in supporting and developing the study environment. Collaborating with student organisations is really awarding: They bring in valuable and highly relevant perspectives which library folks is not able to cover alone, they often have a huge outreach on campus and collaborating with them, creates ownership and awareness of the library activities.

For the actual ‘Award show’ we are aiming a tapping into some of the larger activities going on at campus. At the Faculty of Social Sciences the award are given on the yearly Campus Day in the end of April and in Roskilde at the students yearly Summer Party in the beginning of June.

17457806_10154283447915951_893634756879903624_nThe Handshake. Emma Bach from the Student Council at the Faculty of Social Sciences and yours truly settling the deal on The Study Environment Award.

And The Winner is… 

The award show got everything it takes to be an.. award show: Reading and praise for the nominated students and organisations, an envelope with the winner, the breathless seconds just before the winner is announced, endless happiness and joy and spotlight for the honorable winner, reading of motivation for selecting the particular winner, handover of prize, bubbles and flowers and thank you speech from the winner.

In both case the prize has been money to make new activities for the study environment.

At The Faculty of Social Sciences the award went to ‘Pedalarmen’ (The Pedal Arm) – a space for fixing bikes, drinking coffee and have chats with fellow students across campus. One of the reasons The Pedal Arm won was, that it is not focused on subjects or education – it simply creates a social space, a welcoming, friendly and open get-together, where students can meet with other students (and teachers) from other disciplines (and learn something about how to fix ones bike – Copenhagen is a biking city you know and for many people the bike is like an extra part of the body).

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The happy winners of the Study Environment Award 2017 on The Faculty of Social Sciences

Benefits of the award approach to supporting student driven study environment activities

The Award approach comes with different benefits:

  1. It celebrates the cool students and voluntarily spirits that is doing something good for the study environment
  2. By creating focus it can inspire others to do the same
  3.  It’s an well known concept, easy arranged, and everybody loves a good award show
  4. Collaborating with student councils and student organizations creates valuable network within the student community for the library
  5.  Having The Library name on a popular award is good branding and story telling about the library

This is working for us and can be twisted in many ways. A Study Environmental Award is just one of a number of different ways the academic library can support student driven activities on campus and in higher education. Let me hear yours.

Cheers

Christian

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