General first-year outreach
If you ask 18-year-olds what an academic library would have to do to get them in the door, they always come up with "public library" PR ideas: book talks, game nights, music, movies, etc. Have you tried any of these? Were they successful?
General First-Year Outreach: Examples
Ohio University: 4+/pub/lge // Contact: Sherri Saines
The Code Game
The Code game is a series of 5 challenges through which students explore the library and earn prizes. They begin by asking for the first task at the Alden Library second floor library services desk. Solve that puzzle, return and get another one…. Students who successfully solve all 5 “codes” are entered in a drawing for one of three grand prizes of $100. This was expensive, and a lot of work! We only had 60 students finish the whole thing. But we liked the idea well enough to try it again in 08; results forthcoming.
We turned the Library into a gaming arcade for one evening during move-in weekend. This, too, was very expensive and time-consuming. We had about 160 turn out, but most ate up the pizza and left. Of the dozen or so who stayed late to actually play games, the reviews were great. We decided the audience was too small.
Student and parent groups tour campus during Precollege, the summer orientation program. In order to entice them to actually come in the library and look around for a few minutes, we serve lemonade. We buy the lemonade from food services, but librarians pour it and take 2-3 minutes to talk to each group about the library. We script the talking points. As this goes on for 3 weeks, we take volunteers from all library departments. It's a feel-good event that we think gains us a lot of good will for the cost of the lemonade.
These fairs are simply conference-type display tables set up in a room through which particular groups are invited: Resident assistants, New students, New faculty, undecided students, etc. We invested in a trifold, some nice laminated library photos, magnets with our IM handle (cheapest thing in the book), and chocolate. Stand and schmooze.
Yale University: 4+/prv/med // Contact: Emily Horning
Personal Librarian Program
Our PL program matches each incoming freshman with a Yale librarian, or PL. The PLs send occasional announcements (approximately every 3-4 weeks) to their students about various research tools and databases, lead tours of Sterling Memorial and Bass Libraries (the two libraries most heavily used by undergraduates) at the beginning of the year and tours of other collections as the academic year goes on, and generally remain available for research assistance (by e-mail, IM or office hours) for the first two years of a student's Yale career. When the student declares a major, their PL will introduce them to their Subject Specialist, a librarian with collection development and research responsibilities in their discipline, who will help them with the work they do for the junior seminars and eventually senior essays or projects, which are required of most majors here.
We're technically in the second stage of the pilot phase of this program, the first stage being a tryout with a subset, 120 students, of last year's freshman class. The students in that group really liked the idea of having their "own" librarian. Once we got the support of Yale's Dean of Undergraduate Education and the Dean of Freshman Affairs, we entered the second stage of the pilot: determining whether we could scale up, and recruit enough librarians to work with the Class of 2012, which has 1320 students. We were able to find 31 librarians to join us this academic year. In order to make the offer more appealing, we said participating librarians could take on a minimum of 10 students, but the upper limit was up to them - if they would agree to participate for two years. So some of us are working with only 10 students, and others, like myself, have many, many more than 10 students. So far that isn't a problem, but this is something we'll be monitoring closely throughout the academic year. I should also mention that our PL program is based on a similar program (with the same name) that Yale's Medical Library has had in place for many years, which is very successful. I'm aware of the University of Chicago's Class Librarian program, which is slightly different (one librarian follows an entire class, for four years) but not of anything quite like ours. Perhaps I'm just not looking thoroughly enough.