Old wooden fencepost, in the woods
Recently, the library held a well-attended student advisory meeting. Led by a designated librarian, we all recruited students, sat them down in a conference room with an internet projector, and asked them questions about the college library. A point that came up repeatedly was that students did not know about many of the great services the library provides. Since then, I have been wondering how we could fix this.
Here are some of the obstacles:
- There is currently no mandatory orientation to the college for incoming students.
- There is a constant influx of new students, and many enroll for only one semester.
- The campus is not residential – students must commute to classes.
- The library does not have a spare staff member to devote full attention to outreach to students.
Here are some of ideas for what we could be doing:
- Work more closely with the Student Activities office. For many of the same reasons mentioned above, however, there is usually a shortage of students participating in activities.
- Try to use low-tech methods of communication as well as high-tech. The college has such a variety of students that in some cases it may be easier to reach students using bulletin boards and word of mouth than through anything involving a computer.
- Create a packet of information explaining the library's student services. A librarian could be in charge of updating this once per year and distributing it to students. As a starting place we could send it to their college email, but it could also be available at service desks throughout the campus. In addition we could make it readily available to instructors so they could distribute it when needed.
- Perform further outreach to instructors? I wonder if in many cases the instructors are the only human interface students have at the college. There are a variety of factors that regularly make comprehensive outreach to instructors difficult, not least of which are the communication habits of the instructors and their feelings toward the college administration, which the library is part of according to the organizational chart.