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Wildcard Wednesdays

Passively Engaging Students

We all have our strengths, and I’ll be the first to admit that design isn’t one of mine. That’s why I’ve been excited that several of our new hires are more decoratively inclined. For the first time at my library, the circulation area has transformed for Halloween, with skulls leering on tables and spiderwebs festooning our display of seasonally spooky reads.

Our circulation team has gone beyond grisly decor to engage students. As part of the October decorations, they hid ghosts around the library, wrote up a list of clues, and encouraged students to find them in exchange for a prize. I’ve already spotted one student on the hunt taking selfies with her successful finds.  

A sign reading 'find the ghosts hidden around the library for a prize'. A ghost silhouette cut out of old book pages hovers next to the sign.

In the past, our book displays went up for one or two months and remained static during that time. With enthusiastic new staff (including some with mastery of Canva) we’ve started doing weekly mini-displays based on themes a reference team member finds in Chase’s Calendar of Events. She pairs our physical book displays with QR codes directing students toward ebooks and audiobooks in our Overdrive collection. (During Happy Cat Month, aka September, we added pictures of adoptable felines from the campus Veterinary technology program.) We’ve seen increased circulation of physical and digital titles since the start of these mini-displays.

That’s not the only way we’ve invited students to join in on the fun. A weeding project left us with plenty of excess books, which have been transformed into raw material for origami butterflies now frozen in flight across the walls of our circulation section. Two library representatives brought extra pages to the campus wellness fair, and students crowded around their table learning how to transform old books into butterflies or intricately folded bookmarks. Now detailed instructions and spare pages fill slots that formerly housed print newspapers for students to enjoy.

A library wall covered in folded paper butterflies. Pages of origami instructions are held in an old newspaper stand. A ghost peeks out from behind the stand.
Butterflies fly across the circulation wall near the origami station. Can you spot the hidden ghost peeking out?

After several slow semesters post-reopening, our library is busy again. That may have happened no matter what, but I like to think our new decorations, eye-catching displays, and engagement opportunities helped draw students in. I can’t wait to see what else our team comes up with.

Does your library engage in passive programming? What do you do to catch students’ eyes while they’re in the library?

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