Filling in the Blanks: Developing a Library Orientation for Incoming Community College Students

Article excerpt

Abstract

Library orientation literature suggests a need for hands-on activities to reinforce learning outcomes. Cleveland State Community College Library, while constrained by time, staffing, and renovation, was able to collaborate with the campus orientation committee to develop an interactive, activity-based library orientation session during the college new student orientation.

Cleveland State Community College is a two-year non-residential college operated within the Tennessee Board of Regents system. The school serves approximately 3500 for-credit students (FTE 2200) from the surrounding counties of Bradley, McMinn, Meigs, Monroe, and Polk. The average student age is 25.9 (Cleveland State Community College, 2012).

During the Fall 2010 semester, the college introduced an optional orientation program for new students called Freshman Frenzy. Coordinated by a small committee composed of members from a variety of campus departments, the event was designed to introduce incoming students to campus services and resources. During the first two years of the event, the college library functioned as a location for students to have their campus ID cards made. Informal library tours were offered by Admissions Office staff. Incentives were based upon attending individual sessions, with additional prizes offered for completing event evaluations.

The 2012 event marked the first time that students were required to complete a campus-wide "passport" in order to be eligible to win event drawings. All event participants received campus passports listing a variety of campus services and presentations, such as "Transition from High School to College" and the Math Lab. Students gained unique passport stamps by attending each presentation. All students who collected the required number of passport stamps, including several required stops, were registered to win prizes such as an iPad or a restaurant giftcertificate.

During initial planning for the 2012 event, the library director proposed to the event committee that the library function as an academic station during the event, rather than simply as a location for creating student IDs. After some discussion about how the library could be more fully integrated with the campus event, the library was placed among the required stops for all students attending the event.

The Cleveland State librarians began to brainstorm creative ways of introducing new students to library resources and services. In 2011, the library performed student outreach by handing out promotional library-themed bags and ear buds, but the librarians hoped to expand student outreach by emphasizing how library services and resources could benefit students.

The library collections and services have traditionally worked most heavily with students in the general transfer and nursing programs, but the Freshman Frenzy event provided an opportunity to reach a broader range of incoming students. Librarians wanted to highlight Web-based library services, including online research guides and self-paced online information literacy tutorials, and building-based library services such as in-person research assistance.

However, several serious limitations were placed on library staff: staffing numbers, library renovation, and time. During the normal academic year, the Cleveland State Library staffis comprised of three full-time librarians and four full-time staffmembers. During the 2012 New Student Orientation, however, changes in staffing resulted in only one full-time staffmember. As part of building renovations, the library was also in a state of transition, with empty book shelves greeting visitors. Finally, student time in the library was necessarily limited to approximately 10 to 15 minutes. What would be the best ways to maximize this time? Librarians knew that they wanted to develop activities that were engaging, authentic, and outcome-based, but also activities that could be implemented with a very limited number of staffin a transitional library space, and completed within a short time frame. …