Changing Perspective by Providing the Unexpected
Hall, Tracy Michelle
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In recent years, much research has been done on the changing roles of the library in the academy, focusing heavily on the revitalization brought about by rapid technological trends, information literacy, and overall changing understanding of student learning in the 21st century. While these initiatives are all vital contributions toward student outcomes and overall academic success, theLibrary is exploring new initiatives that improve student services, promote outreach and campus collaboration and change campus-wide perceptions of the library. Through these new initiatives,we foster an internal cultural shift, building a new sense of community within the library as people work across departments and rank to ensure that these events are both of interest to the student body and prove successful foundations for future growth. Outreach endeavors implemented by the library this year and already widely appreciated by both students and campus departments include a partnership with veterinary medicine program to bring in therapy animals, a campus-wide Scavenger Hunt, grilled cheese and coffee service during finals week, and a Banned Books read out. Likewise, in April of 2012, the Library partnered with the Office of Undergraduate Research to present the 10th annual Undergraduate Research symposium. Expectations were hopeful for a goal of 500 students to attend our first annual Game Night. Final numbers far exceeded our expectations and students raved about how much fun they had. Another popular event sponsored by the Library was the first annual scavenger hunt. A team of 16 people from across the library collaborated to create a list of 150 clues that sent students to all over campus and town. The students were given 4 days to complete the Hunt, with the instructions that photos of the teams completing the clues were to be turned into a Dropbox account and shared with the Library. Over the course of these four days, 24 teams equaling 160 people turned in approximately 2,600 photos. During finals week, Spring 2012 the Library partnered with the Veterinarian Medicine program to bring in dogs and cats trained through the campus therapy animal program. This was so successful during finals that in July 2012 we began bringing in the therapy animals once per month. Approximately 100-125 students attend this event each month. Additional recent outreach endeavors implemented and proposed by the Library include a Virtual Read Out in support of Banned Books Week, the newly minted Research on the Edge speaker series, various partnerships with the Office of Undergraduate Research, the English department, Residence Life, Tutoring and Student Career Services. By reaching out to our campus community the library is working to break down old-fashioned perspectives by providing the unexpected. By allowing the library to be seen as welcoming and forward thinking, we provide academic encouragement for our campus community at large. Acting on these outreach plans is also in line with our library’s strategic mission, as fresh examples of how we, as an academic library, are continuing to evolve to meet and exceed student expectations.