I work in an academic library. We find that the most effective way to encourage students to use the library is to go into their classroom and have bibliographic instruction. As we demonstrate how to access our library virtually from the classroom, we try to expand our students’ perception of the libraries. A library is not a physical brick and mortar building but a resource available all day long from anywhere. Although these sessions are certainly effective, we only go into the classrooms twice a semester. We are beginning to try new ideas to try to replicate the benefits of our classroom instruction to demonstrate that library and librarians are not contained within the walls of our building. To do this we are changing the idea of where and how reference assistance happens.
The reference desk is antiquated. We no longer sit with the student at the reference desk, looking at the computer together. Now we join our students at their desks and work with them. As the student works on a computer, I do a simultaneous or similar search using my iPhone. Students really love the idea that I can move around and show them how to do effective searching without being tied to a desk. When we both search different terms at the same time, we also work together to come up with the best search terms and strategies. (I would love to do this on an iPad/tablet, but I have not figured out a way to convince my boss to pay for it. Perhaps someone else will write a post on innovative ways to get projects funded!)
Taking the library to other parts of the campus or town. Academic libraries are trying this all the time by setting up mobile areas in the cafeteria, writing centers, coffee shops or campus centers to bring the library to the students. Sitting in the cafeteria with a computer, a librarian can still do the critical work of helping students access good information. Perhaps by seeing the librarian in different place, the students might conceive of the library as not just a place but a resource.
Staying connected to the library. I try to always carry a handheld device whenever I’m representing the library. Whether it is a community meeting, an academic affairs meeting, or any other outreach, I use my phone to access the library to show faculty and students how accessible our resources are.
How do you bring your services outside the library and meet your teens where they are?