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Back to the Drawing Boards: A more inclusive approach to library orientation at Maynooth University Library. Niall O’Brien

Back to the Drawing Boards: A more inclusive approach to library orientation at Maynooth University Library. Niall O'Brien

In planning a first year library orientation session for September 2018, Maynooth University Library led an initiative to welcome new students to the Library in a more inclusive and experiential way. Rather than repeat the format of the previous year, a presentation which feedback indicated students found forgettable, we organised an interactive poster tour whereby small groups of students were brought around seven distinct poster boards by a library staff member.

 

Over the course of one week, 2,790 students were welcomed in small groups to the library space by a main presenter. After briefly welcoming the gathered groups, library staff members then discussed the library’s services with their gathered groups by spending several minutes at each of the seven boards, each one profiling a particular library initiative. The tour was organised to flow in a synchronised loop, so that when the main presenter gave the signal, each group moved to the next board. This resulted in a more personalised and interactive orientation experience for students. The tour was concluded by the presenter calling the groups to order again and playing a game (complete with prizes) based on the benefits of Boolean searching.

This initiative is indicative of wider efforts to reach out to new library users and make them feel connected to their library. It resulted in a greater level of engagement and enthusiasm from students compared to the induction offered previously. Furthermore, developing content for the boards afforded the Library team the opportunity to showcase how our services foster the critical skills that undergraduate students are expected to develop as part of their Maynooth University education. Attendees for this presentation will learn how orientation in an academic library has the potential to be much more immersive and inclusive than a traditional library tour or presentation.

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