Open Conference Systems at Dalhousie, International Association of University Libraries, 2016 Conference

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Library & Experiential Learning: Taking Collaboration to the Next Level
Yuyun Wirawati Ishak

Last modified: 2016-03-09


To demonstrate the value of academic library, it is imperative to align library’s role and outcomes with the parent institution’s vision and mission (Cottrell, 2011). This paper discusses Singapore Management University Libraries’ initiatives, to tie up library’s instructional services with the university’s vision, especially through collaboration with schools and other departments within the university.

Singapore Management University has a ten-year vision to be an iconic university that provides transformative education for a new generation of graduates.  The transformative education translates into an active learning which consists of 3 components: mindset for collaboration, curriculum based on experiential learning, and spaces for groupwork.

One of library’s first attempts in experiential learning was through collaboration with Business School. The Business School offers a course in Managing Process Improvement (MGMT317) which assigns real process issues for students to analyze, using six-sigma project-based approach. Library joined as one of the clients that presented real operational issues. Library put forward a seat-hogging issue that was causing problem to library’s seating capacity, and diverting library manpower from its main operation.   A group of six students were assigned to analyze and propose improvement. Two Business Faculty guided the group in project management framework and thought them in using process improvement tools.  One Librarian and one Library Team Lead were representing Library as the business client.

The 16-week process was remarkable, as librarians were shifting their teaching role into a client/advisor role with lots of face to face time with students, and plenty of teachable moments.  It also pushed all parties involved to look beyond internal boundaries for best practices, and possible collaboration to resolve certain issues.

The key takeaway was that experiential learning takes far more effort and commitment from librarians as compare to regular instructional classes.  The results, however, were very promising as a) the learning outcomes were achieved, b) the business solution was usable and c) deeper engagement with students and Business School Faculty was established.

Since then, library has rolled out several more initiatives. All has the marking of collaborative mindset and willingness to delve into experiential learning.


Experiential learning, business process improvement, library seat hogging


Cottrell, J.R. (2011). What are we doing here, anyway? Tying academic library goals to institutional mission. College & Research Libraries New, 72(9), 516-520.