Red River College Library and Academic Services Warm Up Week is one of five projects to receive the 2021 American Library Association (ALA) Presidential Citation for Innovative International Library Projects.
Warm Up Week was developed by RRC Library and Academic Services, in partnership with College stakeholders, to provide support and mental health services for RRC students. The event was conceived to address the many challenges the pandemic has posed to post-secondary institutions, including students’ experiences adapting to changes in course delivery, staying connected with their peers and instructors, and obtaining mental health and academic supports from home.
For 500 RRC students, the Winter 2021 semester was delayed by one week to hold the first-ever Warm Up Week, Jan. 4 to 8. The week-long event gave faculty time to pivot to online program delivery and provided students with a supportive online environment to develop co-curricular and academic skills, helping ensure their success heading into the winter semester.
“To address challenges the pandemic has added to students’ academic experience, the College continues to develop innovative solutions to support our students,” says Arnold Boldt, Executive Director, Academic. “Warm Up Week is an important initiative that addresses mental health concerns while also boosting students’ confidence and preparedness in their educational journeys.”
The event consisted of seminars, workshops, help desks and self-guided learning opportunities. Some of the Warm Up sessions included: Technology Skills for Online Success, Online Learning Strategies, and Intercultural Competence.
Partnerships with the School of Indigenous Education, Mental Health and Wellness, the Centre for International Education and Global Partnerships, Employment Services and the RRC Students’ Association provided access to additional supports such as Indigenous Elder drop-ins, resumé-writing workshops, mindfulness sessions, and more.
“Along with the pressures of starting a new semester, the pandemic can amplify feelings of anxiety and uncertainty for students, who have had to adapt to new ways of learning and connecting with their instructors and peers,” says Kerry Macdonald, Director, Library and Academic Services.
“While this initiative was born out of a need during the pandemic, due to its immense success, we hope to make Warm Up Week an annual event engaging all incoming RRC students.”
Though Warm Up Week targeted the 500 students with a delayed semester start, all RRC students were encouraged to participate, and many attended in addition to their regular classes. Post-event, 95 per cent of student survey participants said they “feel more confident they will be successful in their program” and “feel more prepared to meet the demands of their program.”
Award recipients will be acknowledged at the virtual ALA Annual Conference & Exhibition, June 23-29. Additionally, RRC’s Warm Up Week will be featured in the American Libraries magazine alongside other ALA Presidential Citations winners.