2016 iSchool (SLAIS) MLIS Co-op Student of the Year

Each year, the Arts Co-op Program recognizes an iSchool (SLAIS) Master of Library and Information Studies (MLIS) co-op student for outstanding achievement in all aspects of the student’s performance, including academics, the workplace, and professional/community involvement. This year’s winner, Simon Robins, was honoured for his work term with McBride and District Public Library as the Student Intern – Library Promotions & Archival Assistant. Simon’s excellent grades, his commitment to personal, academic, and career development, and his strong performance evaluation by his supervisor illustrates why he is deserving of the distinction of iSchool (SLAIS) MLIS Co-op Student of the Year.

Excellence in the Workplace

In his position, Simon was responsible for facilitating the relationship between the local community and the library. To do so, he assessed the needs of the community and then developed new plans and reports based on the data he gathered. He assessed the needs of the community by having conversations with co-workers and community members, and by contacting professional peers in the North Central Library Federation via email. Simon also drafted the Valley Museum & Archives Society Strategic Plan, wrote the new McBride Library Collections Policy, created a report and proposal for new library services at the McBride & District Hospital, and wrote lesson plans for library instruction sessions and a manual on how to access library databases for the local high school. Much of his work was formally adopted by the McBride and District Public Library and the Valley Museum & Archives Society, lessons plans were made available to the McBride Secondary School teachers, and the database manual sent to other librarians in the North Central Library Federation. Simon’s supervisor and manager, Naomi Balla-Boudreau, explained that Simon was a “thoughtful, motivated, and focused individual” and that he “naturally took initiative, identifying needs and seeking ways to meet them.” This exceeded Naomi’s expectations of what co-op students are capable of.

Tapping into what he learned from the iSchool@UBC, Simon applied his classroom knowledge and skills to the workplace. In particular, Simon relied heavily on his “courses in research methods and subject-based librarianships, and on assignments from other SLAIS courses, which involved drafting concise reports and delivering presentations.” Simon’s studies allowed him to engage more deeply in all of his responsibilities and projects during his co-op term.

In the last couple of years, Simon was a member of the UBC Library Student Advisory Committee and an executive member in SLAIS’ student chapter of the Canadian Health Library Association. Relying on the experience he gained during his co-op work term, Simon has been able to utilize his ability to “communicate with stakeholders and manage projects,” which has helped him “to conduct outreach with local organizations or schedule interviews with local leaders.”

Before starting this co-op term, Simon wanted to work in an academic library after graduation. Through this position, his focus has expanded, and he is now not only interested in working in an academic library, but also engaging with outside organizations and community members as a career path.  When reflecting on his co-op experience, Simon is confident that his abilities gained through co-op will help him find a full-time job after graduation.


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