Posted by Andrew Dunn on 8 December, 2015
I heard yesterday of an initiative at Coventry University Library called PALS which stands for Pre-arrival Library Support.
PALS is targeted at international students and looks to induct them into library services before they arrive in the UK. International students can arrive late for their courses because of visa problems; they can also come with a very different library experience in their own countries. PALS aims to address some of these issues.
To ascertain international student needs Coventry University Library ran surveys and focus groups with their 2014-15 international students. They found that student concerns concentrated on the concrete, day-to-day functions of a library – printing and photocopying loomed large, but so did coping with the Dewey Decimal System and finding books on shelves. Other concerns mentioned included and the size of and space in the library, open shelves, self-service and searching for one’s own materials online.
When asked what formats students wanted help in they plumped mainly for printable PDF guides but also suggested film clips and talking heads featuring fellow students.
Coventry used WordPress to create PALS and disseminated it to prospective students via the International Office, academics with strong links to international student groups and via the equivalent of the ELTU during pre-sessional courses.
You can find it at http://pals.coventry.ac.uk/ In the future Coventry plan to add a virtual tour of the library and put a survey on the resource to gather feedback on it.