sCIL Open House 2002: "Effective Outreach to First Year Students"

Amy Wallace

Presenters: Shelley Harrell (Azusa Pacific University, and Amy Wallace (Claremont Colleges,

1. Shelley Harrell of Azusa Pacific talked about the development of a program for marketing library education to freshmen. From 1994-1996, library instruction was mandatory as a component of the required Freshman Writing Seminar. Conducted by the course instructor, it was based on a booklet written by library faculty called "Information Power". Due to staff changes, the mandatory sessions associated with the Freshmen Writing Seminar were discontinued in 1996. In 1995-1996, the library marketed drop-in workshops and tours directly to students through a brochure. These drop-in sessions were not well attended, with the exception of those on Internet searching, and they were conducted in a minimally networked classroom that prohibited hands-on participation. Outreach expanded from 1998-2000 to include advertising in campus publications, signage, and the creation of a Library Liaison program. These methods, combined with targeted marketing to students in specific programs such as Freshman Writing, didn’t have the hoped-for impact. In 2001, the program brought back the mandatory library education component of the Freshman Writing seminar, now supported by a web tutorial. Ms. Harrell concludes that mandatory library instruction is the most effective kind of outreach for first year students.

2. Amy Wallace of the Claremont Colleges described their two-year-old Passport program, which encourages first-year undergraduates to explore the library through a series of activities. Students are given "passport" booklets that contain activities based on the things that a first year student needs to do in the first three months of school, such as activating library privileges, visiting the four campus libraries, and completing a catalog exercise. Completion of each activity must be verified by a staff signature or stamp, and the total time required is between one and one-and-one-half hours. To encourage participation, a drawing is held in October to award prizes to students who have returned completed Passports to the library. Prizes were paid for by the Libraries and included substantial grand prizes, such as Palm Pilots and ski lift tickets. These were complemented by smaller prizes such as food gift certificates from local businesses.

Informing and gaining support from the staff in all four libraries was the biggest planning challenge. In its first year, the program was promoted through student orientations and had no faculty collaboration (due to timing), and participation was less than 10%. In its second year, the program garnered more than 30% student participation from the combined five Colleges as a result of increased promotion, including outreach to faculty (some of whom required the Passport), outreach to the Colleges’ first-year program coordinators, posters, and email announcements. For its upcoming third year, focus groups will be conducted to determine which activities were the most effective and should be continued. Increased faculty collaboration is also desired. Changes may be made to the "passport" booklet itself, such as the addition of a campus map and a rearrangement of activity sequence.

Note: as of January 2002, Ms. Wallace is Head of Reference, Instruction, and Outreach for the Social Sciences and Humanities Library at the University of California, San Diego. Contact information for the instruction librarians at Claremont:

Questions from the audience:

1. For AW: Price of the materials for the Passport program?


2. For AW: How were prizes awarded?

Answer: Completed booklets were drawn out of the "Passport Trunk" located in Honnold/Mudd Library during the prize party.

3. For AW: Is the purpose of the program more for name recognition/promotion or to teach skills?

Answer: To teach low-level skills and prepare students for library instruction classes given to freshmen; more like a tour or orientation.

4. For AW: Were faculty requesting instruction affected?

Answer: Students weren’t getting library instruction from the Passport–it is just an extra and doesn’t take the place of instruction. The program did have the promotional effect of bringing in faculty not traditionally requesting library instruction.

5. For AW: One College in particular had low student participation–why?

Answer: This particular College doesn’t like to make anything mandatory for their students.

6. For AW: How did you get the Libraries to give money for prizes?

Answer: The pitch was to promote the value of the libraries; they’re not part of any college and need to get their name out on their own; to get name recognition.

7. For AW: A suggestion from the audience to pursue beyond first year programs and get into required courses that include production of a research paper.

8. For AW: To support the pitch to the Colleges about the program, how about getting local businesses and restaurants involved?

Answer: That’s where the lesser prizes came from. Some businesses gave extra gift certificates when the Library purchased them.

9. For AW: Did any of the library staff not like this program?

Answer: No, no one thought it was a waste of time or money.

--Submitted by Melanie Remy, USC,