We saw some usability footage the other day for our new website. We asked some undergraduates to find a book on x topic. A librarian of course would immediately go search the OPAC by keyword or subject. What did one of the undergraduate do? Go search the subject in wikipedia and scroll to the end of the section looking at the references. When the references turned out to be only articles and not books, they just jumped over to Amazon. Not only were they able to find books over there, they could read a review which helped them choose one book. And then and only then, did they go to the OPAC to find the call number.
We, we libraries, are just terrible at marketing our services. We had a design workshop for graduate students this week. In the course of drawing a picture of their ideal library space, they also made suggestions for new library *services*. One enthusiastic and articulate student suggested that we offer a new service where you could request a book and it would be delivered to a circulation desk. Great idea. In fact, we HAVE this service. We offer this service. The graduate student has been at the UofR for seven years and has never found the service, despite actively looking for it. Groan. We're rolling out a new interface today for our request forms. Hopefully this will help. We have no where to go but up.
We offered a new activity for freshman orientation this year -- a session for kid's day (activities for the younger brothers and sisters of freshman). Kids signed up to make a shield in the Robbins Library, a medieval special collection in Rush Rhees Library. Of course it was fantastic thanks to Alan, Barbara, Rosemary, and Nora. Barbara cut shields out of heavy paper. The kids could draw or paste things on the shields. When they were done, Alan took their picture with the shield. The shields were fabulous. They were decorated with ballet shoes, cows, hatchets, and pink pompoms! It was a lot of work for us, but I bet it made a huge impression on those kids.
I am doing freshman advising this fall. Six freshman. I have so much to so say about the experience, I hardly know where to start. It has made me remember back to when I was a freshman. I was often afraid, alone, lonely, uncertain. I spoke on the phone to my parents once a week. I communicated with my high school friends entirely by letters. We never even spoke on the phone. What a different experience my freshman year was these first year students. My advisees talk to their parents on their cell phone all the time. I know they had long discussions about what classes to sign up for. I made my choices entirely on my own, for better or for worse. They talk and text and facebook their high school friends. Even when they haven't made any friends at the UR, they are still very much in touch with their old friends. I'm guessing it's easier to be a freshman now than it 30 years ago. But maybe it's harder to make new connections when the old ones are never broken?
I went to convocation on Friday. I frankly sat on the grass and kind of spaced out in the gorgeous weather. But not so, the students all around me. Every single one of them was either texting or listening to their ipod. I had one of those "ah ha" moments. They simply are always connected. I'm still struggle to understand what that's like.
Our last event for orientation week was giving away ice cream to the freshman when they come off the buses from their day of volunteering. It was cold. It was drizzling. We gave away 900 pieces and for the first time ever, RAN OUT!!! We wore our new t-shirts - thanks to Marc and student from the Art Library.
Good grief. What were we thinking? We had three events on the Tuesday of Orientation week. Helen and Eileen (with many volunteers) had a small book sale in the reference area. We used to have our major book sale before school started. The parking was ideal, but there were no students. Now we deliberately have more frequent, smaller sales while the students are on campus. It's fun.