Wednesday, April 1, 2015

No Magic in the Evening Hours: Academic Library INFO LIT Workshops

Tracking usage is something all libraries need to do to ensure they are meeting patron/student demand for resources and services.  We attempt to track everything we possibly can, and I can't imagine any library that doesn't attempt to do the same.  Although we have had numbers decline in areas such as circulation and other predictable areas (in recent years), our foot traffic and building usage has increased quite a bit.  Our library, which services around 1200 liberal arts students, is the social and academic center in the evening hours on this primarily residential campus.  Over the past few years we have noticed that our busiest hour, in terms of library building traffic, (calculated by headcounts and gate counter) lies somewhere between 7:30pm and 9pm, Mon-Thurs.

Logan Library Schreiner University

Having offered drop-in lunchtime workshops in the past that were mildly successful, we thought that we would offer a series of "information literacy" or library workshops throughout the spring term that would span in focus from the very basic (finding a book on the shelf, navigating databases, etc.) to more focused sessions (Searching CINAHL for Nursing students, or How to be a Research Pro) in the peak evening hours.  Our thinking was that if sweetened the pot with popcorn and a chance to win an iPad 3, that we would have some students interested in taking a break from their studies and friends to perhaps learn a thing or two on research or how to use the library.  We were largely wrong.

Four librarians with three different workshops each (12 in total), spread out over the semester was the master plan.  The first librarian to teach her session reported the morning after that no students had showed up- she had even tried wrangling some before the session was set to begin, but no dice.  I was up next and was determined not to strike out.  I had decided to take along with me a budding librarian undergraduate student who was to handle the OPAC/Find a Book on the Shelf portion of my session.  I thought that having a peer might work to my advantage in getting students to come to my workshop.  I also enlisted a Work Study student that was stationed at the circulation desk, to start advertising the session to every student that walked through the door.

As the budding undergraduate librarian and I sat near the front entrance waiting for our session to start, we talked about the time and whether or not students would be interested in receiving some library instruction.  The student informed me that almost everyone he knew was at a Anime club meeting on campus, and also added that students had been in class all day and maybe didn't feel like attending any more instruction sessions in the evening.  That last part resonated the most with me, and I vowed to make the session quick and informative as possible.  After all, this was their time. 

I ended up with three students in total for that first session and it went great.  The last part of the session consisted of students retrieving a book from the stacks by themselves, which they performed flawlessly.  I love to see the look in students' eyes when they "get it"- it is empowering for the student to realize they now have the power to use a library, and of course it is rewarding for the librarian as well.

Sadly, my first session was my most successful.  The other librarians didn't have much luck either in the evening with the rest of their sessions despite the prizes and marketing efforts- and that was really that.

We did however host a table in which students had to retrieve a book or an article for a chance to win a iPad during an afternoon fair.  This event was in coordination with Dept. of Student Success (held in the library) and we managed to run 80+ students through our mini assignment (highly successful).

In the case of the Student Success fair, there were tables offering food, LinkedIn Photos, and other student services that attracted many types of students over to the library at one time.  We are now planning more of these types of events during the day hours, and of course trying to figure out how to offer some library instruction at the same time.

*Information contained within these pages do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of Schreiner University.

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