Background: The library is granted little to no formal time in the first-year medical students’ orientation, even though we have a significant footprint in their learning space and contain primarily digital collections. Due to discoverability issues for digital collections and lack of formal marketing outlets for services, the library feels it is crucial to interact with our patrons in person when they first arrive. For the past two years, the library has created an orientation event during breaks in the first-year students’ schedule; incorporating activity stations, vendor gifts, food and prizes to encourage participation.
Description: The library kept in mind a few key factors when designing and updating the orientation sessions: the importance of in-person interaction with students, the importance of external motivators for students to voluntarily participate, and how to build internal motivation through creating interesting and useful activities. External motivators included providing food, vendor gifts, library promotional gifts and the chance to win a grand prize upon completion of their orientation passport. Internal motivation factors included a welcoming atmosphere, challenging activities, and a sense of competition. Each year of orientation the had full-time staff and student workers moderate four activity stations focused on People & Services, Online Resources, Library IT, and Circulation. In our second year, we updated all paper and pen activities such as crosswords and matching games to also include our emerging technology, particularly the interactive Google JamBoard.
Conclusion: Program outcomes include high rates of participation from students, with 40% of 120 students completing passports the first year and 75% of 60 students completing them in the second year. Working closely with the School of Medicine allowed the orientation to be listed as an official activity on students’ calendars. This likely led to increased participation in the second year. Informal observation and debriefing with library employees revealed students seemed engaged and learned new information about library policies, procedures, and resources. Headcounts have not been taken, but we hope to develop a process for capturing general attendance during future orientations.