Independent Living in the Library

In November the library launched its special collection to support our Independent Living and Skills for Employment students.

For the past 3 years the Library has been situated next to their classrooms but most students never thought of borrowing anything – and some thought they were not even allowed to.  Realising this was quite disheartening, so we have been trying to make the library more inclusive to students from this area for a few years.

Students didn’t think there were any resources for them, so Julia Sherrington (our Academic Liaison Librarian) has been conducting introductions to the library with tours, talks and showing them how to borrow items.

We show students which books and subjects might be interesting to them, and any that relate to what they study in the classroom, e.g. health, nutrition, cooking and gardening.  We showed the journals in the library and asked what magazines they would like to see.  As result of this we ordered a few magazines such as BBC Easy Cook.

Following observations from tutors in this area, they felt that having a separate section for their students would help as being in the library might be stressful.  We have had to move shelving and study spaces around quite a bit during the past few years so not all subject areas remain the same so this can cause confusion.

It was decided that having a few shelves of stock against the wall near to their classrooms would be a good idea. Having their own collection would also create a sense of ownership. Placing this collection between the Reading Collection and Graded Readers would mean that students could venture a little further and look at these other collections to help improve their comprehension.  As with the rest of our collections, this area isn’t exclusive to Independent Living/Skills for Employment students, anyone is welcome to borrow from it; just as these students are welcome to borrow anything in the Library.

In order to differentiate their books and DVDs from other areas we coded them with “IL” in front of their shelf-mark, this appears on the spine of the item and on the Library Management System. “IL” of course standing for “Independent Living”. Some of the stock was transferred from the main collection and some DVDs have been donated by the dept.  In addition to that, we have been ordering new stock.  One difficulty is in finding appropriate level books for adults with learning difficulties.  Many books for are for children rather than adults, so in some cases we have had to order some material aimed at children, but we are trying to avoid that whenever possible.

Labeling on Independent Living collection books

We have had some recent comments about students now asking their parents or carers to take them to their public library.  This is wonderful as it shows that this is adding to their independent skills and interest.  The library has suffered quite a bit of disruption with stock moves and the lighting in this area is quite low.  We have asked our Estates to increase lighting to make the area less “gloomy” and more navigable.  We will monitor how well this collection is used in the next year to see whether it is still useful and whether it is on the right location.  So, watch this space – quite literally!