Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Working with Faculty on Library Assignments

Today I was made aware of an excellent post on the "In the Library with the Lead Pipe" blog. It talks about librarians working with faculty in a positive way. I'm glad that Ellie Collier wrote this very helpful post on communicating with campus faculty about library assignments. I particularly appreciate the possible responses that one could send to a faculty member; they are very diplomatic and respectful.

Our First Year Seminar program directors believe that a library scavenger hunt would be a great tool for introducing the freshmen to the campus library. I think that a well-crafted scavenger hunt might be a good experience for freshmen who have never entered a larger library in their lives, such as our campus library.

Of course, capitalizing on what the Library has would be optimal. For example, some students may not be aware of the student lounge, location/availability of study rooms, computer usage, how to find a book on the shelf, etc. They may not consider the Library as a relaxing place where they may read popular magazines or check their email.

My experience has been that all students do not appreciate the library tour very much, so they might learn more from a scavenger hunt that they work on with a small group of their peers, especially peers they did not know previously. A First Year Seminar program ought to facilitate networking among students. Perhaps I am digressing, but a (library) scavenger hunt done as a group could help new freshmen get to know someone they might not have. Their instructors know who they pal up with in the class, so they can assign students to groups with individuals other than their pals.

I appreciate how Ellie mentioned why some library assignments are bad. Sometimes I hear people disparage scavenger hunts in blanket statements, and it makes me hesitate to ask why, as if it should be intrinsically known already. If we can talk about the reasons why they are taboo/bad, then maybe we can find solutions for improving them.

While library tours are not the most enthralling events for freshmen, many of them do appreciate learning about the existence of computers, study rooms, and reference librarians. If nothing else, they seem to enjoy the rare books in our Special Collections: pop-up books, art books [they think the shoe book is cool], the 16th-century book of sermons by John Calvin, and ISU maps.


Kim Leeder said...

Hey Spencer, thanks for the shout out to our blog. Glad you found Ellie's post helpful! It's definitely an issue we all struggle with in academic libraries...

Anonymous said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.



Spencer said...

Kim and Kaylee,

Thank you for posting comments to my blog. Kim, your blog is very well done. It deserves recognition.

Kaylee, glad you have liked reading my blog. I do not post as often as some people, but I try when I can. Sometimes I feel that very few people actually read my blog, due to the paucity of comments, but I know that's not necessarily true as I have been monitoring its usage every so often with Google Analytics.

Ellie said...

I put this on ITLWTLP, but I wanted to put it here too.

Thanks so much for such a thoughtful response. I completely agree with you. I was thinking of the trivia based treasure hunts which tend towards frustrating searches with nothing to attach to, but questions more like, “Find the student lounge, then find the Reference Librarian and ask what day and time you’ll find free donuts and coffee in there.” are excellent treasure hunt exercises. :) I particularly like adding in the student networking factor. At my small one room, 1/4 of a floor library, I can forget that getting acquainted with a full sized University library might be a bigger undertaking. Thank you for the reminder and the excellent activity as an alternative to the traditional tour.