Posts filed under ‘Library Orientation’
Inspired by an orientation presentation we’ve been doing all summer for freshmen & their parents, we now have a self-running orientation “video” that can be played for students.
I created this version when another librarian asked me if we had something we could provide a faculty member who wanted to just play something as students were walking in and getting settled into the class. This just happens to be one of the Centennial Hall classes this semester – one that has 1,200 students enrolled.
I want to add music to this, but in the meantime it’s a nice silent presentation. I created it using the flash-editor program, FlyPaper. Take a look!
New Student Orientation is in full swing at the University of Arizona, and I’m coordinating the library conference sessions that take place during lunch, across from a number of other sessions. We don’t always have the biggest crowds turn out, but it’s still worth it to reach those few students & parents.
To help draw them in, and give them something to watch while they’re waiting for the session to start, I play this video, “Did You Know?”:
It’s a great illustration of information overload. Once the video ends, I explain that it seems appropriate since libraries are all about information, and helping you navigate through the incredibly vast world of information…
This past Friday we held the 3rd annual Amazing Library Race: Desert Edition at the UA’s Main Library. We broke previous numbers and had 210 participants show up, including students, staff, faculty, and community members. To learn more about this event and how it all works, see my post from last year.
As an organizer this year, I spent all morning helping with setup and coordinating volunteers, then was a floater during the actual event, and helped with take down. By the time the Amazing Happy Hour started at 5:00 I was completely exhausted. But it was well worth it, and here’s why:
- Participants really learned a lot about library resources and services. They also learned about how to navigate the 5 story building, which is often intimidating – not to mention confusing – for newbies.
- It is the only event held in the library where we have this substantial number of participants who are our primary audience. Exhibits, lectures, and other events don’t even come close. The energy that’s present up and down the library stacks is something you really only get to see this one time a year.
- Marketing a lot this year has made the event known to the campus community. Even those that didn’t make it to the event itself very likely heard about it. We had hundreds of table toppers in the student union that week, and posters around University Blvd. where students are constantly passing by. While we only reached a small percentage of our audience during the actual 2 hour event, we reached many more in other ways.
- This event promotes an image that the library isn’t usually known for. Libraries and the people that work in libraries are fun. And approachable. And we want to help.
- Those that work in the library get to all come together to make this event possible. I coordinated over 60 volunteers to staff the stations & help with set-up and take-down. It’s a great opportunity to work with people you don’t see every day and don’t otherwise get to work with.
- Word of mouth is powerful. I think this event is extremely important, and hope those that joined us that day share some of what they learned with friends, classmates, and colleagues. The actual impact of this event is difficult to measure, but I truly think it has the potential to educate library users far and wide about the many services we offer.
A few things were organized differently this year:
- Rather than having a raffle at the end of the event where we later contacted prize winners, we gave away all of our prizes during the actual event (with the exception of the grand prize – an IPod). To win prizes, students completed an activity or played a game. 4 prize stations could be found along the trail, but they weren’t advertised to avoid those stations getting backed up. Those that were successful could pick from a list of prizes. As time went on, obviously, the list got smaller. All prizes were gone soon after 2:00. The prize activities were:
- Media Station: Play “Scene It?“. This could be answering a question about a movie clip, placing films in the order in which they were released, or guessing what movie an image is from.
- Middle Eastern Studies Collection Station: Capitals of the Middle East. Pick a slip from a hat, where there would be the name of a Middle Eastern country’s capital. Correctly state the country’s name and you win. (We had a map displayed of the Middle East to help out a bit).
- Reference Desk Station: Knock Down a Librarian. My wonderful colleague Forrest let us borrow his librarian action figure which we set up on a table with a backdrop of reference materials. You stand behind the line, are given a ball, and get one shot to knock her down.
- Express Check-Out: Find a Bookmark. You select a book from a cart of books about desert survival. If the book you pick has an Amazing Race bookmark in it, you win.
- We also had some new stations this go around:
- University College. This is located in the Integrated Learning Center (ILC) right off the courtyard where we have our final station of free pizza, soda, & eegees. Undecided students, which is much of our audience, are a part of this college and receive advising here. Keith Rocci – who is also our partner in crime for the Skillful Researcher course – staffed this station and had students answer riddles to win a ton of prizes that they had purchased.
- Reference Desk. This was a station before but it was combined with the Presentation Practice Rooms; this time it stood alone so it could focus more on the reference services provided at this site.
- Maps. We added this to the microforms station, which is in the same section on the first floor, so students could pick between answering a maps question (based on maps on display) or a microforms question (based on microforms on display where they had to use the machine to find a certain news story). We also displayed a number of globes, including globes of the moon and astronomical globes, which many library users don’t even know that we have.
- We invited students from SIRLS to volunteer for the event. Two did, and after helping handout flyers around campus they got to staff the stations, promote library services, interact with librarians, and have some fun participating a large scale orientation event.
- And we’re working harder to get feedback, so we can prove to the library that this event is worth the time, effort, and money that goes into it. We took CatCard numbers at the opening station so we can gather details on who participated. We are also going to send out a Survey Monkey to gather better feedback from both participants and volunteers. This is all in addition to the feedback form all the participants were asked to fill out during the race. My hope is that once we collect this data, we will have a stronger argument for why this event is important, why it should continue to be supported in the future.
NOTE: video from the event coming soon…
Last week was the first New Student Orientation of the summer, where approx. 600 students and their parents spend two days sitting through presentations, running around going to different meeting rooms, signing up for classes & university ids, & touring the campus – all in 100 degree + weather.
Prior to last year, the library’s only role was to staff one of the dozens of tables at the CatConnections Expo; this is an optional expo that takes place on the second day during lunch time across from a number of other sessions & schedule advising. We’ve had some luck at this Expo, reaching 30 students or so each time, but they are very quick conversations as the students are walking by. We give them a brochure, encourage them to come to the Amazing Library Race, tell them as much about our services as we can in a few minutes, and send them on their way.
We’re still staffing this table, which is great, but now we also get to deliver an actual presentation, which is much better. This year I’m coordinating these presentations, which are delivered by librarians and library staff from around the library. Of course it’s not required (which would be the ideal – maybe one day), and it takes place across from 8 other sessions going on at the same time. We get half an hour, and deliver two sessions on the first day of orientation during lunch time. This year it’s a “brown bag” which means the students get to pick up their lunches and head off to sessions of their choosing. Although it didn’t work out that way. We actually only had a couple students still eating their lunches when they got to our room, which wasn’t set up to allow for eating since it was auditorium-style seating and no tables.
But it was a huge success. The first session we had 12 students. The second we had 37! The room only seats 50 (or maybe less) so this was a wonderful turnout. We had a number of people asking questions, and they enjoyed learning about all the library has to offer to get a head start in the fall.
Right now we have just a powerpoint, 10 slides, lots of pictures, few words. We really encourage people to go to the Amazing Library Race and give them promo bookmarks, as well as our standard library brochure (titled “Think Libraries are Just About Books? Think Again…). I’ve been working with a colleague on putting together a short video to show, but it’s becoming more difficult that we originally envisioned due to formatting issues with our video camera. Hopefully by the end of the week we’ll sort that out to play it at orientations throughout the rest of the summer. When it’s done I’ll post it on here, too.
This week the course I’ve been helping develop was officially approved to pilot this summer! It will be open to the entire undergrad campus, but aimed at first-year students in University College (undecided majors), and based in that department (UNVR 195a). It’s called “The Skillful Researcher” and is a one-credit, web-based course, that will run for 5 weeks, one module per week.
We based the course on the ACRL standards, and the development of the content has been a collaboration between a number of us within the library’s Undergraduate Services Team and one of the academic advisors & instructors in University College. It will introduce students to library resources and how to define a research topic, and teach them about searching strategies, evaluation methods, and the ethics of information use. Initially this summer, we will probably have 50-100 students in 2 different sections of the course. The goal is to end up with about 500 students per semester – and ideally to make this course required for all undecided university freshman (or perhaps all freshman, period).
Experienced instructional design librarian, Leslie, will be teaching this summer, along with Keith from University College. In the fall I will probably teach a section or two, and we’re hoping down the line that we can have SIRLS grad students teaching the course as part of a graduate assistantship. We’re designing the course in such a way that it will require minimal amounts of time & grading on the part of the instructor, and we are using interactive tutorials and quizzes, videos & virtual lectures, etc. to keep the course engaging while making it scalable for use across a variety of library instruction initiatives. We’ve been using Articulate a lot recently to develop the modules and it’s been working very well.
It was very exciting to get the approval this week, and by the end of the month we hope to have the course completely developed and ready to go!
Recently I participated in the UA Library’s 2nd Annual Amazing Library Race. It was even bigger and better than last year, with somewhere around 300 participants, mostly new UA students. The event is held the Friday before classes begin, and is aimed to be an orientation to the library and its services for new students. It’s loosely based on the Amazing Race reality show, and we call ours the “Desert Edition” so many of the questions along the way relate to “surviving & thriving in a desert university.”
I staffed the first station along with a couple other staff members, including Chris from our Undergraduate Services Team (UST), Sam from External Relations, and Yvonne, a library student who was a former intern for UST. This station was the entrance to the race, right outside the Main Library. I was absolutely astounded when I arrived at two minutes before the race was due to start, and there was a line of students stretching around the side of the building. Incredible! Unfortunately we were so swamped at that point no one thought to take a picture, but we have several witnesses
We gave incomers their maps, carabiners (transcribed with the “UA Libraries” logo), and their first “passport” stamp proving they completed the first station. About every ten or so people would win a free gift bag with goodies including a library t-shirt, free slice of pizza (donated by our local Magpies), and earplugs.
There were 12 stations total, located on every floor of the library and in our Special Collections nextdoor. Tasks included checking-in and out material using our Express Check machines, finding information from an article on microfilm, visiting our new Presentation Rooms, and even making ice cream! The ice cream was at the Science-Engineering Library (SEL) station. Rather than make the students travel around campus in the heat to our other locations, SEL and Fine Arts (FA), we just made stations for them at the Main Library. Students learned about the specialty software located at SEL and the selection of music and architecture material located at FA. They learned about the streaming video we now offer, the exhibits in Special Collections, the photocopying and scanning services, our government documents and area studies collections, and of course our reference services. This year we introduced a Pima County Public Library (PCPL) station, staffed by PCPL librarians who marketed their own services and signed people up for library cards.
The participants could go to stations in any order they chose; this prevented stations from getting swamped all at once. Each station required the participant answer a question to receive a stamp. Once receiving four stamps, they could go to the “Desert Oasis” and receive a free water bottle. Once receiving 8 stamps, they could go to the final stop and get free pizza, eegees, and enter a raffle. We received fantastic sponsorship this year and had a ton of raffle prizes, including an Ipod, TV with DVD player, and giftcards to all over the place.
The race lasted two hours, and while exhausting was a fantastic experience and a really great event for the library. The students loved it. Some actual feedback I heard from participants included:
“This is fabulous! Just fabulous!”
“I’ve been to the library before but learned a lot more about its services I never knew!”
“This is great that you guys do this. Cool!”
I hope this continues as an annual orientation event, while it’s a lot of work it is definitely worthwhile.