First Year Experience

Giant Jenga

Now that midterms have passed and the end of the semester is in sight, my students are entering their high-stress period. Stress-relieving activities have been the trend in libraries for a while now and OWU is no exception. I love to try to surprise my students with things they wouldn’t expect to see in a library. Enter Giant Jenga.

This is a fairly low budget project, but does take some time. I want to say it took me about a month to complete, but that’s because I could only devote a few hours a week to box assembly and decoration. If you have three or four people working on it, I think you can easily make it in 1 or 2 days.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Assemble the boxes and seal them with the clear tape. Then tape two boxes together. (If you can find boxes that are long and shaped like, well, Jenga pieces, you can avoid having to tape two boxes together like I did. But I feel like the doubled up boxes hold up better to game play – which, remember, involves the boxes crashing to the ground.)

Use your decorative duct tape to fancy up the game pieces any way you see fit. I did a border around the ends of each piece. Then paint whatever words you want on the sides of the pieces. I opted for the words “LIBRARY” and “JENGA.”

It’s best to set the game up on a carpeted area as the pieces make noise when they fall (which will be amplified on tile flooring).

My kids seem to love it! I hope it lasts through the end of the semester and have extra boxes on hand should some of the pieces get destroyed.

highgiantjenga

Look how high they got!

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Here’s our circulation manager Mark standing by Giant Jenga for scale.

Marketing The Library As An Experience

It was a whirlwind academic year. I don’t think I’ve ever been busier with classes, student appointments, marketing, and all the other joys of academic librarianship. Now that it’s over, I have set my sights set on our incoming freshmen class. Here at OWU we require incoming freshmen to attend one of three 2-day sessions we call StART (Student Advising, Registration, and Testing). It’s the first opportunity for many campus faculty and staff to interact with students in person (of course, I’ve already infiltrated their Facebook group *evil laugh*). StART attendees receive a folder that includes all sorts of checklists and helpful campus information. I’ve made some significant revisions to this year’s OWU Libraries informational handout.

It’s now a 4 page, 5.5 inch x 4.25 inch booklet. Portions of the layout and design were inspired by a booklet created for the Columbus Coffee Experience.

StARTCover (2)

This is the cover. The booklet will be tucked inside a folder full of other informational materials, so I wanted to be sure it was a) small enough to have to go in the front and b) had something interesting at the top that would make students want to read it.

StART2 (2)

This is page 2. I highlighted the most important services for students in the larger text and was able to feature all our campus libraries and some other key spaces and events in the smaller text. And, of course, I put our most valuable resource, our librarians, in red, all caps text.

Page 3 includes real student testimonials meant to showcase how each student can benefit from the library in a unique way – whether it’s from using resources, having access to scanners, or finding a quality study space.

The back cover promotes a photograph opportunity at the Libraries information table on the first day of each StART event.

The back cover encourages students to visit the Libraries information table on the first day of each StART event.

I’m pretty pleased with my work on this booklet. I designed it using Piktochart and had it printed by OWU’s own print services staff (who are amazing, by the way). I hope it will encourage OWU students to find their own space, librarian, and resources within the libraries.

High School Outreach Is Important…AND FUN!

Earlier this week, I had the privilege of meeting with AP Composition classes at a nearby high school. Interacting with high school students is an integral part of my work. Not only do I help the students themselves, but I also benefit from interacting with an age group that is so very similar to my own first year students.

I was asked to speak about the differences between high school and college research under the assumption that, as AP students, many of them would test out of first year composition. I wanted to tailor my presentation as much as possible to this particular group, so I asked them to answer a few questions using a Google form.

Google forms are gloriously easy to set up. Be sure to select Paragraph Text as the Question Type so responses can be as long as necessary.

Google forms are gloriously easy to set up. Be sure to select Paragraph Text as the Question Type so responses can be as long as necessary.

I didn’t want to use my session for search strategies or resources instruction (students would get that later from their own librarian). And rather than focus solely on library resources and college-level research, I wanted to address anxieties students might be feeling about college life in general. I saw patterns in their responses to my questions that made it easy to come up with content for my presentation.

My presentation consists of five slides. The first four address the questions I asked via the Google form and the last contains words of wisdom from OWU seniors and recent graduates.

For presentation mode, click here: https://magic.piktochart.com/output/5087713-olentangylibertyhs

To see it in presentation mode, click here:
https://magic.piktochart.com/output/5087713-olentangylibertyhs

This was my first time using Piktochart‘s presentation mode and, of course, I found it incredibly easy to work with. I started from a template, but did a lot of customization. I kept consistent design elements throughout (like font and color) which made the process much easier as I could focus on wording and layout.

If you’d like to know more about my presentation, please comment and I’ll happily elaborate.

Piktochart + MS Paint = My Marketing Toolkit

My library is hosting a very special event later this month that has me creating a bunch of teaser ads (a post about the event will be along shortly, I promise). My latest ad was made possible by good ole MS Paint and, of course, Piktochart.

Using Google, I found these paper doll clothing images:

paperdollgirls

 paperdollboys

 

The yellow dress and blue suit were just the aesthetic I was looking for, so I pasted each picture into MS Paint and used the Free Form Selection tool to cut the individual items out. I used that same tool to copy the yellow tabs from the blue suit and affix them to the dress (in design, I prefer matchy matchy).

Here’s the finished product:

Live@LibraryPlayDressUp

Teaser ad for Live @ The Library

Since this ad is just a teaser for the event, I only included the date. The official event poster including time and event logo will be released closer to the event. College kids have very short attention spans and very busy schedules. The slow reveal of event details will hopefully keep them interested.

 

We Went Piktochart PRO!

OWU Libraries has Piktochart PRO status. This means no more Piktochart watermark, high resolution downloads, printer-friendly options, and access to a bunch of sweet templates. I’m going to go on a library/librarians/library services advertising binge (more to come on why later).

Librarians are soldiers on the front of information overload.

Librarians are soldiers on the front of information overload.

An Easy Way To Collaborate With Your Campus Writing Center

It’s no secret that collaborating and supporting campus services strengthens the library’s relationships and increases its value and visibility. Thanks to a suggestion from OWU’s Writing Resource Center faculty, my library was able to provide space and marketing for a much-needed “after-hours” student service.

Our campus Writing Resource Center serves students by helping them become more confident, effective writers. Students can drop by or schedule an appointment during regular business hours to get help from experienced faculty on any type of writing assignment. However, on a small, residential campus like OWU, student schedules are often packed to the gills between 9 am and 5 pm (class, sports, lunch, naps, etc.).

Enter the library.

We’ve begun hosting a Writing Center Drop-in Table a few nights each month from 7 – 9 pm. The table is staffed by student peer-tutors and a librarian (when a librarian is available). Our first two tables were a great success with 6 students stopping by each night (a strong turn out for a campus this size). The writing center faculty advertised directly to our freshmen composition faculty and I did marketing through Facebook and the library website.

Now that we’ve got our advertising and LibGuide established, there is little I need to do each time new dates are announced. It’s another great way to get students into the library and promote the use of our space by other campus organizations.

If you can't already tell, I once again used Piktochart to create this (in my humble opinion) most excellent web advertisement.

If you can’t already tell, I once again used Piktochart to create this (in my humble opinion) most excellent web advertisement.

And this is the image I created for our website's rotating carousel.  Again, the glory that is Piktochart!

And this is the image I created for our website’s rotating carousel. Again, the glory that is Piktochart!

Piktochart Has Changed My Life

Let it be known, I am obsessed with infographics. In a previous post, I showcased one of my infographic-style learning objects that I made using Microsoft Publisher and Paint. Using these tools for this purpose has been less than ideal and I’m often left wondering if there is an easier way.

Well, friends, there is and it’s called Piktochart.

In addition to being incredibly easy to use, it is chock full of design inspiration. I signed up quickly via Facebook and am working on a citation infographic which I promise to post here when it’s ready, but in the meantime check THIS OUT:

Why Google Drive

Sure, I have a few things to learn about layout and spacing, but I’d say I’m off to a darn good start.

For Your Visual Pleasure

Follow me on Instagram.

I’m slowly building content. I decided to take a few pictures of informational posters and signs around the library and campus because I figure Instagram can be yet another place to deliver information to students. And maybe they’re not the hippest and most mind-blowing pieces of photographic art, but, hey, they get the job done, amiright?

My next venture is an Instagram/prize wheel game for tomorrow’s Freshmen Orientation Fair. More to come!

oddbooks

The library has some…odd titles.

campussigns

Photos and hashtags on Instagram are a great way to reach out to other campus groups!

 

Flipping Out

With all the talk about flipped classrooms it was inevitable that I’d eventually have to start paying attention. Over the summer, my colleagues and I have had various meetings related to library curriculum revision and, let me tell you, flipped classrooms have really come to the fore.

I’m quite excited about it and many of the faculty I’ve mentioned it to are on board.

The biggest flip push will take place in our freshmen composition course, English 105. We’ve been fortunate in that our 105 faculty often grant us the luxury of two or even three library sessions per semester and I think our move towards flipped lessons will be a great way to say “thank you” since they can ultimately result in us taking up less of their class time.

I’ve been creating learning objects that I plan to get to the students via class email, a LibGuide, or by asking faculty to add them to their teaching slides (if they use them).

Here’s one of my favorite learning object babies:

guysblogI used the Onion’s Statshots as inspiration for this learning object. I think humor in our type of instruction is absolutely essential in order to keep students’ attention. In this Library Statshot, I introduce website evaluation, author credentials, and relevancy.

 

StART is Finished

To refresh your memory, StART is OWU’s placement testing and registration event. This year, the library was invited to host a table at the student information fair alongside other important campus offices and resources.

Our table looked like this (the lovely lady giving two thumbs up is Sarah, one of our student employees):

StartTable

 

Sarah was an integral part of this event. As a rising junior, she offered answers and perspectives that I could not. She answered questions about dorms, study abroad programs, class schedules, and more. She’s also an incredibly enthusiastic young lady who was sincerely invested in doing a great job and being a spirited and honest ambassador for not only the libraries, but OWU as a whole.

Events like this take a lot of energy. Sarah and I talked to a steady stream of parents and students. I suggest you staff a table like this with at least two people. It makes it easy to slip away should you need a coffee or restroom break and to tend to other work matters as necessary.

Our table included a wheel for students to spin and win a prize. Prizes included buttons (made by me), school supplies (library logo sticky notes, sharpies, pencils/pens, dry erase boards, and Post-It notes in various shapes and sizes), sugar (candy), and toys (sidewalk chalk, bubbles, beach balls, play-doh, decks of cards, etc.).

Students also had the option to fill in one of our dry erase dialogue bubble boards:

startfotor1

The prize wheel was certainly a big hit. It not only drew attention to our table, but made our fairly modest giveaways seem a little more special. And while I love the dialogue bubble boards, I’m going to reserve them for other activities. For example, during freshmen orientation in the fall, my office will be a stop on a scavenger hunt in which orientation team leaders take small groups of freshmen to various campus locations. I will make each group fill out and pose with one of the dialogue bubble boards and post them to Facebook and Instagram. This should be a fun, memorable interaction between me and our new students (and a way for me to connect with them through social media).

I won’t see these students again until they arrive for Freshmen Orientation on August 21st. In the meantime, I’ve infiltrated the Class of 2018 Facebook group and will answer questions as I’m able so this new group of students will know that I’m helpful and friendly (hopefully leading to many meaningful interactions once school starts).

Starttable2 starttable3