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Induction week

October 3, 2011

Sometime in the summer I started putting some feelers out on library inductions for academic institutions to gain an idea on what can work well. I didn’t find all that much and kind of wished people had blogged about it more. After reading Lex Rigby’s post on library inductions I thought I’d best add my own thoughts and feelings on the topic, hopefully other people in a similar position will find it useful.

1. Experience

This September was my first year in a post where I’d be responsible for the new students induction to the library, pretty scary in theory but in practice I have really enjoyed it. I’m still trying to fully understand how the institution I work at functions, the list of courses overlap and as Ravensbourne does Foundation, BA and MA degrees I had to get to grips with who would be arriving first. It turned out Foundation students were first up at the beginning of September and this was a great way to get used to presenting to large groups. They looked as scared as me (this helped). There were two sessions of approx 250 students and unfortunately I could only do one of them (I fell ill with the post-dissertation hand in lergy). After the first session I revised the presentation and chop and change a few bits. Even though I showed the presentation to a colleague and a library friend beforehand, in practice the sequence needed a re-jig.  Next up were the MA students and my line manager felt she wanted to give the MA inductions. With the ‘save a copy’ feature on Prezi I was able to make a duplicate and change the presentation to include her name and not mine. At the end of September the BA students were upon us; super noisy, tonnes of people, free candy floss and over 1,000 excitable new faces. I gave three presentations, due to timetabling the first was a bit of a fail. Students were collecting their new macbooks which spilled into my session and about 50 students turned up towards the end.  Also the space for the first presentation was double booked and we had an unsuitable area. However sessions two and three went really well. It was in the dedicated lecture theatre with massive a humongous screen, people turned up on time, and I even got an applause at the end of session three.

2. Technology

I decided early on to do a Prezi for the induction session, I only had a ten minute slot and I wanted something which was instantly engaging and interesting. I’m rather happy with the final product, it covers the basics and really we could only cover the basics in ten minutes. More in-depth sessions are given later in the year on dissertation research, e-resources and e-books and looking at previous years presentations it was best just to cover where the library is, what you can find in there and how to take out and return items and slightly touch on the more information heavy topics. There was a close call when it came to the network being down on one day but I was saved by a back up. (Obvious tip: always have a back up)

3. Feedback

Both my line manager and teaching staff were happy with how the inductions went. Physically there has been a massive increase in the loaning and returning of materials which bodes well (but this may be start of term enthusiasm. I’ll have to look at this next year when I can draw some comparisons) and personally I am happy with how they went. By including the link to the Prezi on the VLE and intranet homepage students have the option to go over anything they felt they missed during a day of information overload. The ‘Views’ counter on the Prezi can corroborate that people have done this (over 200 views now, win!)

I get the impression the library was slightly secluded from the rest of the institution at the old campus and my manager and myself have been working towards integrating the library within the college on a more day-to-day basis. This seems to be happening slowly and these induction sessions have helped. After the initial induction and freshers week mayhem the library was asked to give a presentation on Athens accounts as this is a source of confusion for some students. The presentation was to be given to MA Professional Media Practice students which is a new course. I gave this presentation which also had a crib sheet to follow during the session. We were able to do this in a brilliant space where fixed iMacs meant there would be no connection problems and it was easy to offer one-on-one help if they had any problems. It was successful and feedback was positive. This was also a good indication of staff feeling that they can approach the library for assistance and help.

Physical promotional material has been lacking in the library, due to the college having a strong emphasis on the digital, and we were hoping we would have something to give away and have students pick up. Students are given tote bags on their first day filled with leaflets and information, and unfortunately we didn’t have our new bookmarks ready in time for this. For the future I would like to develop something which is a combination of the two, but I have until next year to come up with something.

4. Reading

SCONUL’s Focus, includes an extremely useful article ‘Library induction: online vs face-to-face’ written by Carol Elston and Michelle Schneider in issue 52 (you can read it in full here). It discusses blending both an online presence with the traditional face-to-face inductions to form an improved induction service. The article concludes with an interesting notion that ‘it is most likely that the online offering with grow and mature’ which I completely agree with. With staff cutbacks and less time to play around with it is important students can find another place to refresh their memories during a period of information overload.

EDIT: Emma Crag has also written this post on library inductions at Warwick University which offers an interesting insight into how they tackle frequently asked questions. I like the use of video tutorials in both Emma and Lex’s approaches to inductions, this may be something I can develop next year which would be fairly easy as Ravensbourne specialises in broadcasting and production.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. October 6, 2011 8:40 pm

    This is really interesting Sarah thank you for sharing. When someone lets me give inductions to big groups I will come back to this and pinch ideas!

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