Libraries Change Lives

Learners outside Avondale library

Libraries graphic

This is the first in a series of blogs promoting resources for Upskills learners.

Connecting Upskills learners to their local library was a collaboration innovated by the Skills Highway, who support NZ businesses utilising the workplace literacy and numeracy fund. We jumped at the opportunity because it fits so well with our sustainable learning approach. As part of our partnership with Skills Highway NZ, we encourage our clients to connect their employees with the local library. Sustainability is one of our core values as we strive to deliver training that sticks. Access to the local library helps learners to continue to benefit after the programme has finished. It goes beyond those learners too. They are encouraged to introduce their families and others in their community to this amazing free resource.

Skills Highway, has worked with public libraries since 2016 to connect employers, their employees and libraries. Because public libraries provide ongoing opportunities for lifelong learning, they are a hub for community and learner activity.

Libraries help:

  • children and young people develop imagination and creativity
  • adults gain the opportunity to learn about technology and how to use it
  • everyone to deepen their understanding of their cultural heritage, the arts and science.

In addition, libraries offer vital access to digital resources, including devices, web and wi-fi, also learning tools such as Lynda.com. Equally as important is the excellent face-to-face advice offered by the experienced library staff. Some libraries, such as Avondale in Auckland, offer CV workshops to help members progress their careers.

Libraries workplace poster

What we do

We usually arrange for a local librarian to visit the workplace. Or if it’s possible, we will take groups of learners to their local library. The librarians share the social and cultural aspects of using the library. They cover topics such as computer access, its collections, homework help and opportunities to ask a librarian. Most importantly they let our learners know what resources are available to them. Each individual is issued with a library card and invited to obtain cards for family members if required.

Benefits

For the learner

Parents take pride in introducing their families to this treasure trove of resources. Access to DVDs in their own languages can help second generation immigrants stay connected with their parents’ language and culture. Resources such as talking books, graded readers, materials in other languages and magazines with pictures ensure inclusivity. Library members can access further learning opportunities through an online resource, Lynda.com or find out about local courses. There is something to appeal to everyone regardless of their level of English.

We have received some really great feedback from learners, here’s a sample:

“My daughter has a card, but I never think I can.”

“I like Lynda.com. Can see myself using that and getting some certificates.”

“This is so good for what I’m going to study. I didn’t know I can do all that at the library.”

“This is my first time in a library. I can borrow sheet music, so I’m really happy about that.”

“I’ve learned so so much. Especially my confidence has grown.”

“I know what I can do much more. And I want to learn – I wasn’t thinking about learning before the course.”

“Going to the library has made me more confident to order books, to take my children and approach a librarian for help.”


“I took my little girl there and she was so excited. We’ve been to three libraries since I got my card. Got one for my little girl too – she wanted to take out hundreds of books.”

Upskills learners

For our clients

Our tutor Hazel Balderston is a big advocate for libraries. She reflects ‘Companies doing this work normally have the bigger picture in mind. They see the benefits for their employees who access library resources. Connecting their people to the wider community in which they live and work is a priority. They want to help employees fulfil their potential. A strong focus on corporate social responsibility extends strategic thinking beyond the bottom line.’ Hazel and her colleagues recently took 10 groups of learners from Life Health Foods to Avondale library as part of their literacy and numeracy training.  They were excited to see the response from learners and with the reception from the library staff. Best of all, Life Health Foods management team very were supportive of the initiative.

For the libraries

We received this feedback in response to our tutor thanking the librarian following a series of visits to the Avondale library by staff from Life Health Foods.

‘This new collaborative approach has been beneficial to both organisations [Auckland libraries and Upskills]. The outcome is seeing those new learners going away with library cards, being engaged and excited with the resources, and services available to them as future users. What your organisation is undertaking is so valuable an investment to these employees and companies you assist.

Manjula Patel RLIANZA | Manager Community Library – Whau


Ngā Pātaka Kōrero o Tāmaki Makaurau – Auckland Libraries

The tools for the job

Many of our learners aren’t aware they can join their local library, and even less realise that most services are free. Introducing one person to a library has an exponential effect because they encourage other family members and friends to join. It’s like opening Pandora’s box filled with an unending supply of learning tools.

Next steps

Are you interested in encouraging employees to visit their local library or have a librarian visit your workplace?

If you are an Upskills client, we’ve got it covered. If not, you can find your nearest library on the Public Libraries of NZ website. Once you have made contact with the local librarian, you can work out the best way to connect.

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