By Rachel Evans, Marie Mize, Anne Burnett, and David Rutland.
This fall the Alexander Campbell King Law Library at the University of Georgia turned library orientation for incoming students into a Fest, and opened the event up to the entire law school community. The idea for a fest was a collaborative one, with examples from other library orientation programs as well as UGA’s staff resource fair, our experiences at conferences like CALICon, and even a AALL poster session contributing to the final event design and deployment.
How did we get here? After many years of being a regular part of the School of Law’s first year student orientation (during which one or a few librarians stood in front of a group of more than 100 students at a time for roughly an hour) the library went through a transitional period last fall and was removed as a required part of the schedule. As a result, our fall 2018 library orientation was a hybrid program with heavy marketing of an optional in person event, paired with an online video tour housed in a LibGuide. Participation was good, especially considering this was our very first event of this kind. Lasting from 10 AM to 4 PM, the lack of requirement on the part of incoming students and uncertainty about attendance burdened librarians and staff alike.
This fall, with a new student affairs team settled in at the School of Law, orientation for incoming students was reconfigured, expanded and the library was once again made a requirement. Elements from our hybrid fall 2018 model such as timing, location and design were kept. The flow of students coming and going from the library was much smoother too thanks to a blocked schedule of four sets of approximately fifty individuals each hour. This made for easier scheduling on the library’s behalf. With required attendance, even though promotion was less necessary, we still wanted to encourage students to embrace the experience. We incorporated door prizes and gamified participation with stamp cards.
Students received a stamp card which doubled as a flier in their law school orientation packet along with password cards to our three top databases. Everything else they would receive and learn at the library event. For students who forgot to bring cards with them, extras were provided at the library entrance on the day of the event. Six spots to get a stamp or sticker were on each card, and visiting one of each of our six library stations resulted in a stamp or sticker. The stations included:
1. Circulation: At this table located in front of our circulation desk, access services staff and student workers shared examples of other items for checkout, gave demos of course reserves in the library online catalog, and distributed library branded coasters and ink pens.
2. Reference: This station operated by law librarians used the actual reference desk to display information about our legal research and legal technology course offerings, examples of print and online study aids, and gave away mini copies of the constitution as well as library bookmarks with hours and reference desk contact information.
3. I.T. Services: For this table, members of the School of Law Information Technology Services team shared information about what their own Help Desk located in the law library assists with. They also had signs and gave information about UGA’s EITS, WEPA (our printing system) and Microsoft Office software available to students, plus had a basket of free law library branded flash drives to giveaway.
4. Library Tours: Throughout the event, a rotating cast of six librarians and staff members gave approximately ten-minute guided tours of the law library. The tour highlighted important sections of the library, identified where bathrooms and water fountains were, and answered any questions students had about the library, including the building and the collection.
5. Stress Busters: For this station a table operated by volunteer librarians displayed a variety of stress relief resources that are normally available during exams each semester including a giant touchscreen word search, puzzles, coloring, and print resources. Students could take a free tiny animal figuring “study buddy” to start on their law school studying journey with.
6. Other Resources: This final table was not operated by librarians or staff, but was merely a location for all other information about other UGA and Athens resources. It included local news publications, guides to Athens, UGA offices of well-being, LGBTQ resource center, health center, and other pamphlets and brochures. At this station students chose a sticker for their cards.
We also invited our three top database vendors, Westlaw, Lexis Advance and Bloomberg Law who set up tables too and contributed to the overall carnival feel of the event. They provided additional items to giveaway like water bottles, tote bags and even donut holes and candy. Vendors also contributed gift cards to our door prize baskets. We received several positive comments, and our library tour participation rate went from 37 students in fall 2018 to whopping 169 students this fall! We collected 150 completed stamped cards, and awarded 9 lucky participants with door prize packages. For the drawing we captured a video of two librarians randomly selecting cards from the card submission box and announcing the winners, which we later shared on social media. We are hopeful that next fall a similar orientation schedule and format will retain the event style from the past two years as well as the required blocks from this fall.