Libraries form an essential part of any learning institution. Students turn to the library to carry forward the learning process started during lecture times. Libraries not only provide the information material that support taught course content but more than that, libraries should also provide the information and facilities to explore other subject areas, even if for purely personal interest. In learning how to access and evaluate information on their own, library users are well on their way to becoming independent lifelong learners. This is one of the aims for which MCAST was set up. On the other hand, for academic and non academic staff, libraries are the source for continuing professional development, particularly in their area of expertise.
MCAST very much believes in the importance of libraries in educational institutions and over the past academic year, we have invested heavily in the set up of modern library facilities on all its sites, both on the main Campus on Corradino Hill, Paola and at each of our off-site Institutes, and the Gozo Centre. But besides the classical library facilities and services, MCAST has created a Learning Resource Centre, as part of its strategy of ensuring that its graduates learn the skill of independent learning. It is these skills that guarantee that MCAST graduates, over the years, can continuously keep up-to-date with their chosen area of expertise and as necessary branch out into new areas of knowledge, for their own and their employers' mutual benefit.
Why a Library AND Learning Resource Centre?
The Deed of Foundation and the Statute of the Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology in describing the purpose of the College states that as a primary aim, the College will "provide citizens with the opportunity to qualify in trades, skills, artisan or technical or commercial activities, and in the professions in order to prepare, instruct and instill discipline in those citizens for work in the community". But more than this, the Deed of Foundation states further that "The College shall be structured on the concept of lifelong learning, and shall also provide teaching and training programmes … including by distance learning and other programmes which are imparted by any effective means and from any suitable place ..." The role of the Library in supporting the teaching programme of different courses in all the Institutes is clear, and follows the model that conventional libraries have had in the past. However, the emphasis being made on lifelong learning and education through any effective means and from any suitable place, clearly implies that the conventional classroom based teaching is not to be the sole method used by MCAST to reach its aim.
The model, where somebody who knows everything (the teacher / lecturer / demonstrator) explains and imparts knowledge to somebody else who knows nothing or much less (the apprentice / student), is evolving into one where learners are assuming greater responsibility for their own learning. The library has the role of providing the means where students and staff (these too need to embrace lifelong learning) can learn on their own and can be guided on how to master the skills of independent learning. The library as a necessary requirement provides as broad and deep a range of information in all its formats and from all sources as MCAST can afford, and secondly make this information readily available. The library also provides information literacy services which could be as simple as clear library signage, a well designed and presented library web-site and on-line catalogue, short library tours to longer courses of instructions on library use. Moreover we provide individual and group assistance, especially through the MCAST Learning Support Unit. This is the main reason why we call our library, a Library and Learning Resource Centre. We want to emphasise the twin concepts of lifelong learning and ownership of the learning process.
In 2009, the College took the strategic decision of centralising all presently off-site Institutes onto the Main Campus, here in Paola. The Gozo Centre will however remain in Gozo. As a result of this decision, and coupled with a projected increase in student population over the coming years, major building works have already started on this new campus in Paola. With respect to the Library and Learning Resource Centre, this strategic decision translates into the building of a new Library and Learning Resource Centre, because the present building can only accommodate a student population of about 3,000, whereas the projected future population will be in the region of 9,000. Presently, plans are being drawn up for this new building and eventually the total contents of all present five libraries in Malta will be packed ‘lock stock and barrel’ to be relocated into this new building which will be housed on the main ‘piazza’ (or square) of the new campus, to the immediate right of the main entrance.
Library and Learning Resource Centre Manager
Last Updated: 18th September 2014