This post was written by Dr Mollie Dollinger, Equity-First, Students as Partners Lecturer at Deakin University.
Deakin University is one of the 11 institutions participating in the Students as Partners project within CAUL’s Enabling the Modern Curriculum Program. The Deakin University project is called ‘Co-Designing Your Future Library’ and aims to take a collaborative approach towards creating the library strategic plan. The project is led by University Librarian Hero Macdonald, Dr Mollie Dollinger and Paul McKenna.
In the project, university library staff are matched with student mentors in a 1:1 dialogue. The sessions are held entirely online (via Zoom) and are approximately 1 hour in duration. To support the dialogue, the project team supplies each pair a scaffolded set of design thinking activities, including mind maps and storyboards, that help guide the conversation and generate novel ideas and solutions.
Participation was entirely voluntary, with 50 university library staff opting in, and 100 students (each staff member had approximately two meetings, each with one student). Students were recruited centrally and spanned various courses, degrees, and cohorts. All students who participated were awarded a $50 gift card to acknowledge their contribution. University library staff also represented the variety of departments and teams within the library, ensuring a wide breadth of views and perspectives.
Sabina Robertson (Manager, Faculty of Science, Engineering and Built Environment Library Services) reflected on their participation in the project:
“The co-design project was unexpected opportunity to connect and learn from a student’s experience. Students come from such diverse backgrounds; their lives are complex and for some demanding. Somehow university study fits in amongst work, family and health issues.”
Similarly, Clare Carlsson (Director, Client Services and Deputy University Librarian), also shared their thoughts:
“I was amazed at how open and engaged the students were with their feedback and think they pretty chuffed to be asked- this process was great for building stronger student relationships”
Students who participated in the project have also been positive about their experience, citing how the process underscored how much the university cared about their opinions and experiences.
Analysis on the data collected from the project is still underway, with a report (and peer reviewed journal article) expected this year. Watch this space!