Library Orientation

In July of 2004, Melody Kilcrease of San Diego State University asked the list for suggestions for an innovative way to introduce first-year students to the SDSU library. She was also seeking resources that would be beneficial to students and acceptable to librarians. Suggestions included a scavenger hunt for resources, providing students with a map of the library and information regarding where and how to find resources, having students use various resources to plan a trip, and developing a virtual tour of the library.

Rose Parkman Marshall, librarian at the University of South Carolina, cautioned that librarians generally discourage scavenger hunts, as the librarians often wound up doing more work than the students. She, and others, suggested working with the reference staff to develop a program that exposes students to the various resources available.

Melody Kilcrease (read FYE post or send email)
Autumn Grant-Kimball (read FYE post or send email)
Nikki Brown (read FYE post or send email)
Uhuru Hotep (read FYE post or send email)
Rose Parkman Marshall (read FYE post or send email)
Elaine Richardson (read FYE post or send email)
Margaret Puckett (read FYE post or send email)
Zanette Douglas (read FYE post or send email)

July 1, 2004 9:36am
Original Message

I am looking for an inventive way to introduce our first year students to the library and its physical layout. Does anyone have a strategy that works for the library staff and with the students? We give all campus visitors basic library tours during our Orientations, so a basic tour is not too well received for a mandatory site visit during our first-year seminar. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated, but real outcomes would
be even more valuable as this will be part of a grant proposal if I can find a good strategy.

Melody Kilcrease, Director
Thomas B. Day Freshman Success Programs
Division of Undergraduate Studies
San Diego State University
5500 Campanile Dr.
San Diego, California 92182

July 2, 2004 9:12am
Re: Library Introduction

Our library staff in the past has worked with faculty to produce scavenger hunt-like activities. They first introduce the students to the resources and then give them a list of things to find. This is often included in our learning theories class, sometimes a prize is offered. You have no idea how motivating winning a three ring binder with a whole punch can be ; )

Autumn Grant-Kimball
Center for Academic Achievement
Stonehill College

July 2, 2004 11:08am
first-year students and the library

What about a detailed map/layout of the library and where (and HOW) to find different sorts of items? (Great for visual learners!) How about personal tour/helping session once a student actually needs the library? (Often times information goes in one ear and out the next during the summer or in the beginning of the semester. Once a student actually has some research to do is when the tour and librarian help can come in
Good luck!

Nikki Brown
University of South Carolina

July 2, 2004 12:30pm
Re: Library Introduction

Have you considered a "scavenger hunt?"

Uhuru Hotep
Duquesne University

July 5, 2004 2:42pm
Re: Library Introduction

From a librarian's point of view, scavenger hunts often mean that librarians do more work than students. We have found in the past that students will call the reference desk and ask for answers, and it may be a while before the staff catches on. And we also found that often one or two students will actually do the work and email to the rest of the
class. Finally, if classmates do not reshelve materials, the next folks often can't find it. Think seriously about these drawbacks.

Consequently, librarians tend to discourage library trivial pursuits and scavenger hunts. Ask a librarian!!

Rose Parkman Marshall
Reference Department
Thomas Cooper Library
University of South Carolina
Columbia SC 29208
803/777-2956 - Office

July 6, 2004 9:14am
Re: Library exercises

My suggestion is to work with the librarians. Here at Clemson, we have an excellent reference librarian staff - and they are very creative. Currently in our freshman seminar (CU 101), we use the library for a critical thinking exercise developed by one of our reference librarians to help students learn how to evaluate the validity of various sources of information. Students get an orientation to the library in the freshman English class.

However, in the past we have done a exercise that was developed by one of the librarians. The CU 101 class would meet in the library classroom for an introduction by one of the reference librarians; then divided into 5 or 6 groups with each group given one part of an assignment. The overall assignment was to plan a trip hiking in Alaska. One group got directions on getting information about the hiking trails, another about ebooks to take for the trip there, another about the purchase of Alaska (in an 1890's edition of Scientific American that was on the shelf for students to use), etc. The students went to retrieve their assigned information, returned with it to the classroom and when all groups were back, they shared with each other what they got and where they got it. This is a little more organized than a scavenger hunt. The feedback from the students was very positive, but some did feel like it was an overlap with what they got in English. Hence our decision to switch to the critical thinking exercise - but this does get them in the library yet another time.

We have a very user-friendly library, and our students really do use it. Students can eat and drink in almost all areas, we have a cybercafe/coffee shop in the library and are in the process of adding small "convenience-type" store. Almost immediately from the beginning a semester, there are students all over the library studying, working on projects, holding study groups, etc. Very unlike when I was an undergraduate student!!

Have a great day,
Elaine Richardson
Clemson University

July 6, 2004 6:26pm
Re: Library Orientation

Our North Central State College reference librarians decided that the scavenger hunt that we were using was not useful, so they worked out a Treasure Hunt. It is an interesting combination of information and searching the library to discover how it is organized. One clue leads to the next. For instance, they read about the reference section then find a specific reference book and in the back of it there is the next clue about the journal area, which leads to an OHIOLINK activity, which leads to finding a book from the stacks, and so on. They have even set up four different ribbons of clues - one for health, business, criminal justice, and engineering. I think it is a good way to orient students to what is available to them in the library because many of our students are first generation (some have only a GED), and their library skills are slim to none.

Margaret Puckett
FYE Course coordinator/instructor
North Central State College
2441 Kenwood Circle
PO Box 698
Mansfield, Ohio 44901-0698

July 7, 2004 3:07pm
Re: Library orientation

Our librarians created a virtual tour that takes the students through all sections and services of the library. They also created a short quiz the students could take after doing the tour.
We are very fortunate to have a library staff that embraced our first-year program, and they developed several projects for the students. They also have each seminar class do a session in the library with them to walk them through their online services before the
students are required to do a bibliography project. If you would like to visit the site, it is located at

Zanette Douglas
University of Arkansas at Fort Smith