‘A Day in the Life’ Programme (July 2023 Run) – Eight Brief Impressions

This cycle of ‘A Day in the Life’ took seven participants across three academic libraries–NIE Library, SUTD Library and NTU Library–who were gracious hosts that did not skimp on sharing what they do, how they do it, and why they do it, and made for an enriching month of July. In the first of four posts, four participants, Allan Quito, Jess Ng, Kamiliah Bahdar and Meryl Chin share episodic impressions from their experiences in this Programme.

NIE Library (Thursday, 6 July 2023)

1. Robots powering progress

NIE is living in the year 3000 with the clever use of Temi and robotic process automation (RPA). Temi is the cheeriest smart concierge service robot who answers queries, locates and leads users to collections, and even delivers books and library closing reminders. If that did not blow your mind, NIE Library also uses UiPath, an RPA tool, to retrieve crowd levels data for their heatmap and automate repetitive digital processes such as form responses and more.

Greetings from Temi

2. A café within the library

When students start falling asleep from too much studying, they can get a quick wake-up coffee here. A quiet chit chat can also be made; and sometimes, the chit chat can wake up a person better than coffee. Food is also available. Almost no need to leave the library.

The cosy café

SUTD Library (Wednesday, 12 July 2023)

3. Something old, something new / Something donated, something restored

You would not think the newest campus of the three universities we visited–SUTD’s Changi campus opened in 2015–would house old antique structures from China, dating back some 400 years to the Qing and Ming dynasties, and donated by the film star Jackie Chan no less. It was a really cool contrast to check out these structures after seeing the very new, very modern, and very techy makerspaces that are the Fab Lab (also very industrial) and the Dyson-SUTD Innovation Studios.

‘A Day in the Life’ participants at one of the antique structures, an opera stage. Photo taken by Ridzwan from SUTD Library, who was our host for the day.

NTU Library (Wednesday, 26 July 2023)

4. If academic life was a game

NTU Library had created in-house, with Articulate 360, the most engaging interactive game for orienting students around the library’s spaces and resources. The game has all the classic D&D elements with clever twists referencing academic life: the looming presence of Mount Semester; monsters named Assign-Mon; Lord of Exams, a boss character that needs defeating; the Study Gang, minor villainous inconveniences; and the ever resourceful Tower of Library with their helpful Library Keepers.

5. Hygge haven of natural beauty

Academic burnout is prevalent in this day and age but NTU Library has found a way to manage this concern and support student well-being through Hygge (pronounced “hoo-ga”). A restorative space at the Quiet Zone of Lee Wee Nam Library on Level 5 referencing Kaplan’s Attention Restoration Theory and design elements of soft fascination in which simulating natural environments using art, sound, and lighting stimuli holds one’s attention effortlessly and leaves sufficient headspace for reflection allowing essential mental housekeeping.

Participants shimmy out of their shoes and shuffle into the gently illuminated space.

6. Team based learning

NTU’s pedagogy is interesting, focusing on communication and coordination between members of a team. Instead of simply making the students solve problems or apply what they have learned, students need to work as a team. This makes sense as usually, we work in teams. Example would be a team of doctors operating on one patient, or a team of programmers developing a complex, company wide application. Sometimes, the problem is not the task, but the people solving the problems. As a team, each member must know what he is to contribute, how to take positive criticism, and how to give suggestions to other team members.

We got the answer wrong, but our teamwork was good.

7. OA policy

NTU has implemented an open-access policy aimed at promoting the free availability of scholarly research outputs.  The policy encouraged NTU researchers and staff to deposit their scholarly articles and other research datasets into the university’s institutional repository, known as DR-NTU. Library plays an important role ensuring this policy is executed and complies to regulatory guidelines. NTU uses 2 systems to manage the repositories: research papers are stored on DSpace and datasets are stored on Dataverse. Challenges encountered were users are not familiar with the regulatory guidelines which require library staff to monitor information uploaded and provide prompt advice to rectify the non-compliances.

8. Enhanced NUS Academic Profile

NTU Library launched the Enhanced NTU Academic Profile on 1 Feb 2023. This is a unique role played by NTU Library staff, who enhance the look and feel of information presentation by referencing online platforms such as LinkedIn. Guidelines are given to faculty to create/edit the content of the portfolios. Controlled keywords are added to the index to increase the faculty’s searchability and visibility.  Information such as grants, projects, patents, etc. is extracted from external sources. With this, the manual process of updating these sections is automated to increase efficiency.

Contributed by:

Allan Quito, The Ngee Ann Kongsi Library, SIT
Jess Ng, SUTD Library
Kamiliah Bahdar, SMU Libraries
Meryl Chin, SUSS Library

About ‘A Day in the Life’ Programme

‘A Day in the Life’ Programme is a collaborative staff development programme for library staff from Singapore’s seven universities. Developed in 2013, it promotes broad understanding of academic library environments, encourage open sharing of good practices, and connect peers and colleagues across libraries.

The programme runs twice a year around June/July and November/December. During each 3-day run, three university libraries play host to one staff from each participating institution for a day.

The objectives of the programme are:

  1. Provide opportunities for staff to have exposure to the operations and management of other academic libraries in a short, condensed, practical and simple way.
  2. Provide networking opportunities for those staff so that they can stay connected with each other for subsequent follow-up and collaboration.
  3. Provide opportunities for the staff of host organisations in gaining experience and confidence to plan and present about their own library to visitors, i.e., the programme will be delivered (as much as practicable) not by Heads of Departments/Divisions but by the staff working in those units.

Each host institution puts together their own programme with an emphasis on key services, notable projects, and networking opportunities. Participants get to spend a full day at each host institution. Each participant is required to prepare a brief reflective report which is submitted to the executive planning team and the university librarians of participating institutions. Some participants also share their experiences using various platforms such as staff meetings or writing.

The Programme ran from 2013 to 2019 (2 pilots and 11 runs). It halted during the COVID pandemic and resumed in November 2022 (Run 12). Read about Run 12 at Singapore Management University Libraries hosts ‘A Day in the Life’ Programme | IFLA Continuing Professional Development and Workplace Learning (CPDWL) Section Blog.

NTU Library, together with NIE Library and SUTD Library were hosts for Run 13 in July 2023.