Library runs orientation to empower new students

Zolile Machi, closest to screen, making a presentation to MUT students in the library

Every year the University Library runs an orientation for the new students. The week-long orientation is even more important as some of the students are from schools that do not have libraries. The 2024 orientation ran from 11-15 March. Zolile Machi, Information Literacy Librarian, who runs the orientation every year, said it was essential for the students to acquire a set of information assembling skills so that they can participate fully in their learning activities. “To help students prepare themselves for the demands of the academic programme, our library offers training programmes for both new and returning students. We provide orientation to new students, and information literacy for returning students.  Over the past few weeks, groups of students from all three faculties visited the library to attend the sessions. Some of the sessions were conducted online.

During the orientation, the new students were taught how to access information using the appropriate search tools. “There are still many students who may not have been exposed to library facilities before coming to our institution. We try to create a level playing field for all our students to flourish and succeed in their studies. New students need to know where to find what inside the library building, and where to locate information when they visit the library webpage,” said Machi.

The orientation covers topics such as how to search for books; how to evaluate online information sources; and how to how to avoid plagiarism. These Library orientation sessions help students to find what they are looking for and guides them on how to take care of the library resources, said Machi.

Machi also said that it was important for the students to be up to date with new ways of how the library works and be able to use the latest smart tools. “These changes demand of us to upskill our students to stop repeating the same mistakes when they search, select, and apply information in their academic activities. The information literacy programme is designed to strengthen the ability of all our returning students to seek, process, and use knowledge resources in the correct manner,” Machi said. He said the students must be able to navigate safely and effectively across the evolving cyberspace of generative artificial intelligence.  “Through our information literacy sessions, we get a chance to hold important conversations with our students about how to make the right choices, embrace innovations, and eventually adopt effective information seeking habits,” he said.

Machi also said that it was important for the students to be aware of the necessary academic discipline. “Ultimately, we want our students to understand that academic contributions are measured according to how the information was obtained. Scholarship is grounded upon the use of peer reviewed sources, as well as proper referencing to acknowledge original authors,” Machi said. Machi also said that the key message from the library training programmes to “our students is to respect these traditions that facilitate the flow of scientific knowledge”.