Library ambassadors: written by Vedika Bhandari

Vedika and Scholar the goose

Hi! My name is Vedika, and I am a fourth year Environment and Business (co-op) student. I started working at the Library as a co-op student in 2015. Since then, I have completed a second co-op term as Library Environment Monitor, and I continue to work as a student staff member at the Circulation desk.  I have also had the opportunity to sit in on a few library committees (Outreach, Recycling Kaizen). I have been a Library Ambassador since the Spring 2016 term.

I have always enjoyed being in libraries- my mother took me to them all the time when I was younger. As a voracious reader, I manage to find my way to libraries everywhere I live and visit. I worked at the public library in my hometown and volunteered at my high school library. One of the first things I did when I toured the UWaterloo campus was find out how I could apply to work in the library. I feel it was inevitable that I got involved with the library on campus.

I enjoy the atmosphere in libraries- it’s the perfect place to get work done, find something interesting to read, is a place I can learn about upcoming community events, and has great resources. At the University of Waterloo Library, I have the opportunity to meet people studying different subjects, and often ask them about their field of study (and sometimes even what the book they are borrowing is about). I've heard of so many new things through these short, but informative, interactions. I really enjoy connecting with them.

Apart from my regular duties during my first co-op term, I was given the opportunity to get involved with various committees. I was invited to join the Library Outreach committee and brought a new perspective to the group as the only student representative. As a member of the Outreach committee, I helped promote the library at various events around campus and was involved with planning events for students. The Outreach committee saw the value of student input and representation, and the Library Ambassadors program was created. I was interested in staying involved with the student engagement activities, and was excited to be a part of the Library Ambassador program.

As a Library Ambassador, I have had the chance to work with staff and other students to provide larger engagement opportunities for students. I have gotten to know a lot more about the resources the library offers- Library Ambassadors had a scavenger hunt during training, it was SO much fun! I have also seen the amount of work it takes for program ideas go from inception to reality. This job has taught me better communication skills, how to write project proposals and to be more accountable and manage my time better. Being a part of this program, I have had the chance to represent the library at various events on campus and interact with lots of students to provide them with information about resources. I’ve valued the great interactions I have had with staff, students, and other visitors through this program.

Each term, Library Ambassadors are encouraged to come up with a term project. In the Spring term, I worked with Kassandra (Spring ‘16 Library Ambassador) to create a display of useful books for students before exam time- the books covered exam study tips, effective strategies for multitasking, mindfulness techniques and stress management books. We also set up a gratitude rock table where students could write encouraging messages on stones for others or pick up one left by someone else. We received positive feedback about this display from students and staff, and also recognized the need for future initiatives to help students de-stress. 

This term, I am working on a project to help with the selection of books in the Waterloo Reads collection. This collection is very popular amongst students who want to take a break from studying. Since we have such a diverse student population, I believe we should broaden our offerings in order to appeal to more people and to increase multiculturalism on campus. I expected to just pick them based on research through GoodReads, but Mary Lynne and Kailee showed me an interesting way to evaluate the books I am considering. I’m looking forward to seeing the recommended titles on the shelves.

Being involved with this program has been a great learning experience for me. I have had the chance to spend time with Mary Lynne, Kailee and all the Library Ambassadors, and was mentored by Ian Robson. I had a really interesting conversation with Ian about how the library decides which journals to purchase, and he even gave me a recipe for homemade bread! I am so glad I have had this fantastic opportunity working at the library!

If any students out there are thinking about applying for this position, I would highly recommend it! This is a great way to engage with students, create positive change on campus and grow as a person.

 Applications are due by 4 pm on November 25th https://uwaterloo.ca/library/about/work-library/library-ambassador