Investing in a Workplace You Believe In
As a health sciences’ librarian at uOttawa, Lindsey Sikora often fielded requests from medical students for the latest apps to help them make a bedside diagnosis — or for the devices to run them.
Although University libraries have some iPads for students to borrow, they are always in demand, and buying apps, or the specialized statistical software that some students require, is a challenge on a limited budget. The students’ requests prompted Sikora’s decision to become one of about a dozen employees who donate to the Library Technology Improvement Fund, one of the options available as part of the University’s Employee Giving Program.
“It really got me thinking about how our library has the basics, but how maybe this fund could help us bring in new resources, or new technology,” Sikora says.
So, for the past two years, Sikora has been donating about $100 a month to the fund, an amount deducted from her paycheque. “At the end of the year, it’s a significant chunk,” she says.
Sikora and her colleagues have helped raise about $16,000 for the fund. That’s enough for the University to begin to draw on the proceeds to invest in new technology and in improving and outfitting collaborative spaces at the Morriset Library that students can reserve for group work, meetings and projects.
Library staff work with students and faculty members involved with the Entrepreneurship Hub, the Richard L’Abbé Makerspace and the Difference Makers programs, among others. Students taking part in these initiatives need places where they can gather, talk about issues, plan for a project and leave their materials for periods of time.
Through the fund, the Library will now be able to integrate technology into the collaborative spaces, and re-organize the physical layout to better meet students’ needs. Changes to the spaces will range from the installation of 3D printers and whiteboards to the purchase of new furniture.
“Our students are very socially aware,” says University Librarian Leslie Weir. “A lot of these programs, like the Richard L’Abbé Makerspace and Difference Makers, help students have a positive impact on society and the world. We wanted to partner with faculties that have active programs in these areas and support them any way we could.”
Gifts to the Library Technology Improvement Fund allow library staff to connect students with innovative technology that goes beyond basic library services and enhances learning experiences, says Weir.
For Sikora, the decision to give back to uOttawa by donating to the fund was an easy one.
“As a librarian, my goal is to help people, to serve people, to make the University of Ottawa community better,” says Sikora. “There are a lot of ways to do this, and one of them is just by investing in a workplace that you believe in.”