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Libraries Help Stressed Students during Finals

In the fall semester of 2012, I asked some academic libraries what they were doing for stressed students during finals (#libsduringfinals). Here are some of the things I found:

  • UCLA Library had four libraries participate in finals activities like a stress-busters program, therapy dogs, origami, yoga, chair massage, Xbox gaming, and meditation.
  • UNC University Libraries had therapy dogs, free coffee, meditation, snacks, free tea, and crafting. Read more here.
  • University of Central Florida Libraries had an event called Kram for the Exam, with late hours, free study supplies, snacks, and t-shirts. Extended hours were posted on their blog. The libraries set aside computers for student use, as well. The coffee shop was also open late.
  • Wake Forest University’s Z. Smith Reynolds Library had coffee around the clock, plus midnight snacks. They called it Wake the Library. Nice branding!
  • Cornell University Library installed a lawn in the library. It started with a heavy tarp to protect the floor, and sod was placed on top of the tarp. Additionally, a basket of food in the lawn area was replenished for students. The students used the lawn as a study area. Read more at Library Journal.
  • The University of Texas Libraries had a therapy dog study break, plus a display in front of the library on available campus resources.
  • The University of Illinois Undergraduate Library had therapy dogs.
  • University at Buffalo Libraries brought in therapy dogs.
  • Appalachian State University’s Belk Library and Information Commons had a visit from Bailey the therapy dog.
  • Queens University of Charlotte’s Everett Library brought in therapy dogs. Watch a video here!
  • University of Iowa Libraries had a program called Pet a Dog and Study On.
  • Emory Libraries’ Robert W. Woodruff Library had visits from therapy dogs. Read about it here.
  • MIT Libraries had extended hours, therapy dogs, and more.
  • NCSU Libraries brought in free late night coffee and doughnuts.
  • UC Santa Barbara Library, as part of its efforts, had the Cookie Monster drop by.
  • Boise State University’s Albertsons Library was open 24 hours. BSU focused heavily on safety, with the CARE program.
  • Samford University Library kept a close watch over social media in order to respond to questions and comments from students. Also, the librarians sent out encouraging pictures of kittens to students.
  • Library of St. Ambrose University stayed open late.
  • LMU’s William H. Hannon Library
    has a fireplace, which made students happy.

 

Academic libraries are devoting resources to finals activities. Therapy dogs seem to be a popular initiative, but look at what UCLA, UNC, and UCF did for finals…it’s very impressive. Additionally, these libraries are blogging about the activities and using their finals periods as marketing opportunities.

 

What else did libraries do for students during finals? Leave a comment!

Content Marketing on Your Library Website

  • Content can help get more visits to the library website
  • It can be shared on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.
  • What kind of content do university homepages use?

 

Easy content marketing ideas:

  • “5 ways that the library can help you with finals”
  • “10 ways to research for your philosophy paper”

 

Demonstrating whether your content marketing works:

  • Page visits
  • Social media shares
  • Event attendance

Mobile Optimization for Your Academic Library Website

First, a couple graphs on mobile usage from Mary Meeker…

 

Smart phones and tablets will soon become our primary personal computers.

Mobility strategy will be necessary for:

  • Catalog discovery
  • Library marketing
  • Student account management
  • Siri-like tools for finding things on campus

 

 

When links are close together, users hit the wrong links and become frustrated.

  • A reason to avoid lists of links

 

Don’t

  • Have items that patrons click right next to each other
  • Repurpose a mobile site design from a larger screen layout

 

Do

  • Design from scratch for the small screen sizes you wish to support
  • Use Responsive Web Design for library sites to minimize:
    • Resizing
    • Panning
    • Scrolling

 

Creating a mobile site design or a native mobile app will create a different user experience

  • Here are some examples…

Is USC successful?

 

 

Developing an Android native app:

  • It isn’t difficult to make an Android app
  • Android devices are not very standardized
  • Android apps tend to have a lot more bugs than equivalent iOS apps

Developing an iOS app:

  • Much easier to develop
  • Smaller share of the market

 

Other mobile technologies that academic libraries are beginning to use:

  • ILS-sent text messages about due dates/times, library events, etc.
  • Texting a call number/URL to a mobile device
  • Texting a librarian for reference questions
  • QR codes that send people to parts of the library website

Generous Interfaces for Library Websites

Generous interfaces are the current work of Mitchell Whitelaw, University of Canberra…

  • Give users visual things to engage with; not a list of links
  • Show users something first, before they search or click on something

 

Examples of non-generous (stingy) interfaces…

 

Examples of generous interfaces:

 

Academic libraries will gradually shift to generous interfaces over the next five years, with large icons appearing where links once did.

Academic Library Websites in the Next 5 Years

Academic library websites 5 years ago…

 

In the last 5 years, online focus had turned to:

  • One-box resource search
  • Faceted search
  • Traditional OPAC -> Summon/ Primo discovery tools
  • Online reference chat
  • Social media

 

Academic library websites today: the focus of each site circled…



 

Academic library websites in the next 5 years…

  • For some academic library users, the only library experience they have will be via the library’s online interface

 

Library websites will need to figure out mobile-friendly ways to link to:

  • Research help
  • ILL
  • Faculty info
  • Catalog
  • Subject guides
  • New mobile device services

…But they’ll do it in the context of a 2015 design, not a 2005 design.

 

In the next 5 years, academic libraries will work on the following: