JoVE Librarian Innovation Award Winners: Mbangsi Mary Ann Zithem and Jay Michael O. Diola ‘Simplifying and delivering library resources virtually.’

Raveena Khatri, JoVE Writer | 5 min read
Raveena Khatri, JoVE Writer | 5 min read

The 2021 JoVE Science Education and Research Innovation awards have paved the way for a series of blog posts highlighting how science educators, researchers and Librarians around the world have used visual resources to support their remote efforts. We hope these blog posts will be useful for finding effective answers to the questions imposed while juggling between online or hybrid formats.

This blog post highlights the experiences of our 2021 JoVE Librarian Innovation Award winners Mbangsi Mary Ann Zithem and Jay Michael O. Diola, as described in their winning entries, including the challenges and struggles they were faced with to make access to the library resources more simple and easy-to-use. Some studies show that essential workers such as clinical researchers, laboratory members, medical students and other members of the teaching hospital community showed concerns about having to utilize alternate medical databases, due to the existing ones either being too complicated to access. 

Mbangsi Mary Ann Zithem, a Cameroonian librarian and search expert currently working with eBASE Africa, highlighted the need for simplified resources after realizing language constraints for different groups of researchers, educators and policymakers at all levels. To make this knowledge more accessible to various groups, she made research evidence available for policymakers in simple, comprehensive  ‘policymakers’ language’ while for teachers, she transformed content into ‘teachers’ language’. For non-literate communities, she developed scientific evidence statements in plain language and worked with traditional storytellers to convert evidence statements into stories in local languages. “This idea came from the frustration when the African teachers, learners, or policymakers were unable to use research evidence due to both their financial inaccessibility and the complexity of scientific presentations,” explains Mbangsi. She also mentioned “This enabled non-literate families to be able to make scientific evidence-informed choices for their kids”, which encouraged her contribution as a librarian of improving livelihoods through best practices and innovation, especially for underserved populations. This has been through making research resources available, for policymakers and practitioners by developing storytelling events to increase research evidence understanding and use by citizens, especially non-literate citizens. Through the storytelling events, alone they were able to reach over 10000 people in Middle Africa. The pandemic has not only accelerated similar ideas but also pushed many librarians to help effectively engage students with library resources. 

Another award-winning submission that we received for the 2021 JoVE Librarian Innovation Award was from Jay Michael O. Diola, Head Librarian at De La Salle Zobel School in the Philippines. In his submission, Jay Michael mentions a recent study conducted by librarians with regards to the use of gamification in conducting library instruction that shows this approach has been effective in increasing student engagement. An interactive virtual library was created using the Minecraft Education Edition. To make the virtual library functional and interactive, various platforms were integrated into the Minecraft library, such as the OPAC and the online reference service called Grabrarian. The Grabrarian is a chat function that serves as the virtual librarian in which library users can interact with the school librarians. The Minecraft virtual library enables library users to have a feel of an actual library visit. The design was created for library users to have a unique library experience. This will allow users to have a feeling of actual library visits and avail library services online.  Jay says, “The gamified instruction was created using the Minecraft Education Edition app. It’s a powerful tool that helps capture students’ attention. It helps students maintain a positive mindset and engage them in a targeted activity. Its interactivity opens the student’s creativity and active participation in library activities.” 

Want to hear more about establishing virtual libraries that are simplified and interactively engage users? Request a full recording of the webinar session ‘Simplifying and delivering library resources virtually’.

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