Freshmen Orientation

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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The library has some…odd titles.

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

 

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:

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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).

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Time to Make the Buttons

Over the next few weeks I will spend a lot of time in Microsoft Publisher and Paint, my design arsenal when it comes to button giveaways. I’m sure there are far more advanced programs I could be using, but this primitive tool belt suits me just fine. I will have buttons available for StART (OWU’s testing and registration event in early summer), Freshmen Orientation, and many other beginning of school year events/activities.

I use the 2-1/4 inch Button Machine by Neil Enterprises. I’ve had it for well over a year now and it is still in perfect condition. The press is very heavy duty and I only recently had to change the rotary cutter’s blade (spare blades are included in the kit). I purchased a 1000 piece button making supply package alongside the machine and still have plenty to last through the 2014/2015 academic year. This high-quality product and its companion supplies are well-worth the price.

As far as actual design goes, I am not limited to creating library-related buttons. The buttons are less a marketing product for our library and librarians, but another chance to connect with students. My hope is that a student will pin a button to her shirt or bag and when her friend asks, “Hey, where did you get that awesome button?” she’ll say, “My librarian gave it to me!”

I’ve had limited success polling students for button ideas via Facebook or otherwise, so I usually rely on my own pop culture knowledge or the suggestions of my colleagues. I rarely make more than 20 of a particular design so I can assess student response.

Some of my designs:

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It’s the End of Academic Year 2013/2014 as We Know It and I Feel…BUSY.

It’s finals week and as each day passes the number of students on campus will decrease exponentially. The library, while packed now, will be a desolate landscape come Thursday afternoon. And while I look forward to lazy, peaceful summer weekends, I feel a creeping anxiety when I think of the self-discipline required to keep myself on-task through the summer work days.

Thankfully, Summer 2014’s project list is growing longer and more exciting by the minute.

I have about a month and a half to prepare for the onslaught of incoming Freshmen that visit during OWU’s three June StART sessions (Student Advising, Registration and Testing). Last summer, I set up a table, some button giveaways, and a record player on the library veranda and spent much of StART hula hooping, handing out bottled water, dancing to Led Zeppelin, and getting to know our incoming students and their parents.

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(See? I wasn’t fibbing.)

This year’s June StART sessions will be different. I received an email from the program coordinator that an “information fair” will be added to the check-in portion of StART. Students and families will complete essential StART tasks, but also have access to various campus departments/offices/services.

I can’t think of a better place for the library to be!

Appearing side-by-side with financial aide, the honors program, student counseling services, the health center, residence life, etc. reaffirms the library as place…essential place. Not only that, but it concentrates our participation in the three day event to a very staff-able three hour window.

In addition to the aforementioned button giveaways, I will have candy (of course) and other library promotional materials. But this year I’m going to bring Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook into the mix with a directed activity. I found a dry-erase dialogue bubble board on Amazon that I will affix a lead-in phrase to with letter stickers (something like, “I love libraries because…” or “My librarians will…”) and will photograph the students, their responses, and of course, post them with some hashtags.

  #loveowulibraries   #iamowu   #owulibraries   #loveyourlibrarian

What else is on my summer to do list, you ask?

  • LibGuides revision (in particular, our Library Basics guide as referred to in a previous post)
  • In-house journal club
  • Reference Camp
  • First Year Experience matters (library involvement in Freshmen Orientation, UC 160 – OWU’s Intro to the University Experience course, and ENG 105 – OWU’s Freshmen English Composition Course)

Of course, you’ll hear much more about all of these in the coming months.