Freshmen Library Orientation

Today, I finished up my last group of kids coming through the library for Freshmen Library Orientation and it was a huge success. When I started two years ago, the kids were doing their library orientation on paper and it required a lot of paper grading. I decided last year I wanted to keep up the scavenger hunt aspect, but I wanted to make it a little more fun and digital. We did a scavenger hunt with a prize for the first person to finish. The kids definitely had fun, but they didn’t really learn much about the library because they were rushing through the tasks. This time, I did a good bit of research on what school librarians in my PLN were doing and I found a nice compromise between the two. Before I map out how I did this, I’ll admit that I completely forgot to take pictures. I’m so bad with taking pictures in the library and I hope keeping up this blog will help me with that.

I began by using a presentation to introduce myself, the library spaces that weren’t covered in the scavenger hunt, the library website, and the book club. Talking about myself was one of the best decisions. I had never done that before and it was a spur of the moment decision the night before I met my first class. I told them about being a band nerd in high school, my music degree, my obsessions (Harry Potter, Hamilton, and Pokemon Go), and my deep love of reading. It helped me build a little rapport with the kids and many of them had common interests. I even had a few kids who loved every single thing I did. It gave them such a positive experience with me and in the library and I hope it made them feel welcome. I also really loved showing them the website. Now, they all know how to get here, what’s available, and how to search for books in the library. I had a good deal of interest in book club. I was so excited about that. I haven’t been the best at publicizing out book club so it hasn’t grown very much. I think introducing it to my 9th graders every year will help. You can click the image below to see my presentation.

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Once we pushed out the scavenger hunt, the students paired up and worked together to complete each task. I gave them tasks that would take them to each area of the library, introduce them to books they might like, and have them go through the printing process. Doing all of this made them familiar with where things are and how the library operates. I also think they had fun doing it. I set it up so that there was only one question per section so they could focus on answering each question before moving onto the next one. I walked around and helped students with their tasks, as needed. Their last task was to ask me a question so I had a good idea of when everyone was finished. Most of them asked me my favorite book or color, but some came up with really interesting questions. Click the link below to see my form. I’ve removed the required questions so you can click through without answering anything.

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I tacked a little survey on at the end to see what students thought about the library in general and during Husky Hour.

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Let’s take a look at the survey results!

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My first question was whether or not the student felt they had learned something from the scavenger hunt. Hopefully, they were honest. Almost 90% said they learned something. Several of the students had already been visiting the library, so they might not have learned much from this activity since they’d already figured much of it out. A few things they said they learned were how to print, how to find books, where certain sections are located, that there are comics, and that there are group room they can use. Many also took note that they now know there is a library website. My favorite response was this one: “[I learned] where I can find the best book ever and the best librarian.” It’s always nice when a kid makes you smile!

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I asked the students to rate the library on a scale of Meh to Awesome (0-5). I mostly got some great ratings, so it’s looks like a good first impression for these guys. When asked if there was anything that would improve the library I got some silly responses and some great ones. Students suggested I buy more sports books, horror books, and graphic novels (I’m working on it). There were a lot of suggestions for things that are out of my control like open wi-fi and coffee in the mornings. I was happy to see a few requests for more study tips and help. I’m hoping I can provide that on this website.

I’m not going to post the data for Husky Hour attendance because I think it will change a lot in the coming weeks. A little over half of the students said they had been in the library for Husky Hour. I had plenty of good feedback (it’s a good place to hang out, they come to print things, they come to check out books). I also had a great deal of back feedback (it’s too loud and crowded). It’s true that, up until today, it was loud and overcrowded. We were trying an open door policy where kids could move in and out of the library as they pleased. It became too much pretty quickly and after a lot of student complaints we decided to turn the library back into a quiet space. We had our first successful lunch this way and we still had a full house. Many of the students who were looking for quieter places to work on things found it in the library and it seemed to work really well.

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The examples for the weekly activities were coloring, board games, and card games. There are other makerspace type things I’ve seen librarians do with time like this, but I figured the kids wouldn’t know what that meant. It’s pretty split down the middle on this. With our new quieter atmosphere, the games might not work. There is a larger group room that would be good for small groups playing games. It also has storage that we could use to store any games or supplies, as well. Coloring I think might be nice to offer so I’m going to look into that.

I asked for Husky Hour suggestions and got more students mentioning the need for quiet. I also got some club/activity suggestions like tabletop gaming, roleplaying games (think Dungeons & Dragons), and card games. Lots of people seemed to like the idea of coloring and suggested a coloring club. These all sound awesome and we might be able to utilize one of the group rooms for those activities.

This was truly the best library orientation I’ve done since I’ve started working in the library. I can’t think of anything I would change about it. Most of the students were engaged and learned something from it. All of them had the opportunity to meet me and learn who I am and what I do. I even had a parent send me a note to tell me how much her child loved learning about me and the library. That one email was enough validation. I can’t wait to work with these funny, sweet students more this year!

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