How a LibGuide Got Me to Italy

OK, well that headline might be a bit of an exaggeration..but just slightly. Let me explain.

In 2016, a professor at the university I work at was offering a cross-cultural experience course (a short-term study abroad) in Italy–all about travel writing. He asked one of our library staffers to help chaperone. This library staffer then told the professor that I should make a LibGuide for the course.

Students meet once per week in the semester before the travel for an introduction into the culture and history of the place they will be visiting. In preparation for the experience, students gather outside sources about the culture.

So I had some fun and did a LibGuide. I gathered up articles, books, and websites on travel writing, Italian traditions and culture, and info on the locales that students would be visiting. I’m not yea or nay on LibGuides–sometimes they are appropriate, sometimes not…just another useful tool in my librarian tool belt. In this case, it was an appropriate venue to organize the information.

Italy course LibGuide

Italy course LibGuide

I worked with the professor to schedule an information literacy session. Students liked the resources I put together and I shared my own experiences of visiting Rome as a college student.

The professor was effusive about the LibGuide and thanked me for creating it.

“You mean if I find a resource that might be helpful for the students, you could possibly add it to the LibGuide?”

Me: YES!

So 2017 rolls around. This time, the professor was going to be doing two sections of his Italy course and wanted to know if I would be willing to chaperone one of them.

Umm…yeah!

So in Spring semester 2017, I visited the students again for an info lit session and used the LibGuide. I tweaked it based off of the new itinerary the groups would be doing.

The professor and another chaperone took the first group of students over to Italy for three weeks. Then the chaperone and the first group flew back to the US.

Then it was my turn. On June 8, I met students at Chicago’s O’Hare airport, distributed their Euro stipend, and off we went to Florence, Italy, connecting through Zurich. We met the professor at the Florence airport.

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Florence

Herding students? No problem. Try getting 50+ faculty to schedule their required info lit sessions!

I loved getting to know the students. It was nice to put a name to face. I often saw the students in the library beforehand, but didn’t necessarily know them.

The three weeks in Italy was an absolute blast. I did some blogging on my travel site. We were based in Florence and saw all the big sites like the Duomo, Uffizi Gallery, and the Michelangelo’s David.

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Florence: Duomo

One day in Florence, we took a cooking class. We got to eat the pasta that the students made! For some, it was their first time as cooks.

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Florence cooking class

Venturing out from Florence on day trips, we visited enchanting Venice, under-the-radar Bologna, and beautiful Siena.

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Rialto Bridge, Venice

Naturally, the wine lover in me enjoyed our trip to Chianti country for a bit of history and winemaking…possibly my favorite day of the trip.

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Chianti country

During some free time, I made a solo trip to Pisa, and then with a small group of students, toured Milan.

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Milan: Cathedral

In my role as chaperone, I handled administrative matters (paperwork, travel, tickets, chief counter of students…), so the professor could focus on teaching.

But after 21 beautiful Italian days, it was time to come home. Summer seemed a bit short after I returned, but you’ll get no complaints from me! It was a privilege to join the professor and students.

Here are some photos from the Italy trip:

For more Italy pics, check out my Flickr album.

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A Doggone Good Time: Therapy Dogs at the Library

Sorry, I couldn’t resist the title. I know….I know…

I’ve been seeing posts and pictures recently of other library therapy dogs events. Who doesn’t like to see some doggie pics? So I thought I’d throw in my own experience:

Today was the library’s 3rd annual visit of therapy dogs (technically they’re outreach dogs–dogs that have passed their canine good citizenship test). It’s something that the students eagerly look forward to (and now come expect!) as fall semester Final Exams begin. We had 16 dogs with us today and several hundred students.

It’s a great way to put a different face on the academic library: to show students we care about their mental well-being. We want them relaxed for Final Exams. We want to relieve those jitters for a little while. This gives them an opportunity to take a break from studying if for just a bit.

I blogged about the broader topic last spring – De-Stressing for Student Finals –  and a colleague and I gave a presentation on marketing and outreach activities such as this last year: Creating an Engaging Library: Marketing from the Group Up.

For the library it costs little money. The local kennel club participants volunteer their time for free. Our marketing is via the library website, Facebook, and Twitter. We spent some money printing posters. It’s also important to be in contact with your parent organization’s risk management person to make sure the appropriate paperwork and insurance forms are filled out. Otherwise, it’s a pretty easy event to handle.

Concerns about noise and allergies? Although that’s definitely a legitimate concern, we’ve heard very little comment. We’re lucky in that our library is 7 floors. For us, it boils down to this: The event takes up 1 floor for 2 hours on 1 day a year. You have to balance the reward with the consequences. For us, the reward is overwhelming: This is an event that students look forward to. Students are lined up on the floor waiting to see the dogs as they come into the building. Want to see more? Check out these pics:

“I Didn’t Know I Could Use the Library!” Meeting the Needs of Students Online

I’m at WILU 2013 – Workshop for Instruction in Library Use – a Canadian information literacy conference in Fredericton, New Brunswick: a great opportunity to network with librarians north of the border – or “south of the border” to them! I presented a session about implementing library services to online students:

“I Didn’t Know I Could Use the Library!” Meeting the Needs of Students Online

Session Description:
What do you do with students you rarely see in the library? University of Wisconsin-Green Bay has a growing online student population. Reaching these students can be challenging. Many still view the library as just a brick-and-mortar building, and not an online 24/7 resource. Librarians conducted an assessment of online students to investigate their needs. This session will focus on the assessment results and the information literacy outreach plan put into place. It will highlight several initiatives, including the embedded librarian program, faculty-librarian collaboration, marketing efforts, and learning tools geared towards online students. Based on feedback from students and faculty, an increase in reference questions, as well as high usage statistics from librarian-created tutorials and discussion boards, the outreach plan is working. Come and learn about these best practices for online learners and share your ideas, as well.

Here are some of the assessment tools, resources, guides, and tips mentioned in my presentation:

Postcards & Therapy Dogs: De-Stressing for Student Finals

It’s that time of year: Final Exams. To help de-stress students at my academic library, we usually plan some activities to help students relax and have a little fun too.

Yesterday I tweeted a postcard that my library is giving students to send back home to assure mom and dad that they’re studying for final exams. It proved popular! At last count, it was re-tweeted 37 times and favorited 31 times.

Final Exams postcard for students to send back home.

Final Exams postcard for students to send back home.

Library Postcards

So, how did the postcard idea come about? It’s all about partnerships. Our library director, Paula Ganyard (@ganyardp), who had read an article about a similar idea, approached our university’s marketing people–they thought it was a great idea. A graphics intern in their department designed two postcards for us to give to students.

For printing and postage, the partnership continues: the library, along with the university’s advancement office (the money people!) split the cost. Now before you think we’re spending money on postcards as opposed to books and databases, we’re not. We have a small amount of funds that can be used for outreach projects such as this. As academic libraries do more outreach, having money to do things outside of the normal “library” realm becomes more important.

So, what do we see as the “worth” in doing something like this? Our library director thinks it’s something fun and different for today’s college students. Used to communicating electronically, the postcard idea is a fun, retro way to connect with mom and dad. Building on this, it’s also great way for the library to connect with parents, promote the university’s new brand, and promote the library as Wisconsin Library of the Year. But it all ties back to the students: we hope that the small things we do add to students’ overall college experience, helps to retain them, and creates a fun memory for their library and their campus.

Therapy Dogs

In addition to the postcard idea, we try to do one “big” event for Final Exams each semester. For Fall Final Exams in December, we bring in therapy dogs–which has become one of our most talked about events.

One of our librarians belongs to a local kennel club. Their dogs have all passed the “canine good citizenship” test and do outreach at schools, nursing homes, and now our academic library. On the day of the event, we block off a two hour time span on one of library floors and invite anywhere from 12-15 therapy dogs.  Response from students has been through the roof, as evidenced in social media posts (here, here, here, and here). We even made the local TV news:

UWGB students use dogs to escape exams

The therapy dog visit demonstrates the library’s commitment to not only the academic needs of students, but to their general mental and behavioral well-being. It gives students a moment to relax, recalibrate, and re-energize before the next big exam.

Complaints about allergies and noise have been minor. I think of it this way: it’s one day of the year, for two hours, limited to one floor of the library, and highly publicized. We also try to hold it right BEFORE final exams begin, to avoid any major disruptions. Also: if you want to do therapy dogs, don’t forget to check on liability/insurance issues. We had do some paperwork!

For more photos of our “furry” library friends, check out the UW-Green Bay’s Cofrin Library Flickr set.

The therapy dogs and other outreach activities we do are covered in a presentation I did with my colleague Renee Ettinger at the Wisconsin Library Association Conference in October 2012.

Include “Passive” Activities, Too

Besides postcards and therapy dogs, we also try to have a variety of “passive” activities: coloring, board games, easy crafts, etc. Anything to take students’ minds of Finals…if just for a bit.

I’m interested in hearing about what other academic libraries do for Final Exams. Let me know and leave a comment!

Get ‘Embed’ with Your Librarian: Meeting the Needs of Students Online

The online market is a growing field for higher education. How does the academic library fit into all of this? My colleague–Anne Kasuboski–and I gave a presentation at the 2013 Wisconsin Association of Academic Librarians conference, held at Elkhart Lake.

We discuss how our library at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay surveyed our online students and faculty and developed an outreach plan to meet their needs.

It covers our Embedded Librarian program, which started out as a pilot program and expanded successfully across online courses, in addition to some face-to-face courses. It also includes information on the learning tools that we gear towards online learners, such as LibGuides, tutorials, and resources like NoodleTools.

If you have questions about being an “embedded librarian”–let me know! I would like to hear what other librarians are doing with programs such as these.

Edible Books Redux

Last year I blogged about hosting an Edible Book Festival – it’s a great way to get your community to think about books and reading in a different light. You’re also asking your community to contribute and show off their talents. And who doesn’t like some cake? I love the cleverness and creativity associated with this event. You can even promote it with fun tag lines such as:

It’s time to cook the books!

Did you ever want to eat your own words?

Yesterday, my library held its 2nd annual Edible Book Fest to coincide with National Library Week. This year we did a few things differently. We changed some of the prize categories. This year we did:

We also relied on “celebrity” judges to pick the winners for each of the categories–with the exception of “People’s Choice.” Last year, we spent too much time trying to tally up the winners, so we let our community vote for “People’s Choice” and then only had to tally up votes for one category – this streamlined things for us.

Take a look at some of our edible entries:

Creating an Engaging Library: Marketing from the Ground Up

My colleague Renee Ettinger & I presented at the Wisconsin Library Association Annual Conference in La Crosse last week. What a fun experience interacting with other librarians from around the state!

Our presentation – Creating an Engaging Library: Marketing from the Ground Up – covered our library’s events for our university community, examined our marketing efforts and how they have evolved, spotlighted our social media activities, and how we collaborate with students and other campus groups for marketing and event planning.

Here’s the description of our session presentation:

Libraries can’t afford for marketing to be an afterthought. It’s a way to connect with your community, campus and school. Join UW-Green Bay librarians as they discuss how their library built a comprehensive marketing plan, utilized the talent of students, experts, partnered with stakeholders and designed popular events for its patrons. The end goal? Creating a vibrant and engaging environment. The session will wrap up with a lightning round, where you will be invited to share your ideas and experiences with marketing. We hope to see you there!

Below is a link to our presentation from Slideshare:

We also referenced several videos in our presentation:

If you have some great marketing ideas or cool library events you’d like to share, let me know!