Utah State University Libraries hosted a Library After Hours event for first-year Connections students on Friday. The event was one of the most attended event the Merrill-Cazier Library has seen in its history.
“Our goal for this event was to give first-year students a fun opportunity to navigate the library building and discover library services and resources with their peers and without upperclassman present,” First-Year Experience Librarian Katie Strand said. “Our goal was not to make sure our new students know every single thing about the library, but rather to ease their anxiety about our building and let them know we are here to support them.”
The students had a variety of activities to choose from. Laser tag, virtual reality and video games, informational booths, pizza, custom sodas and break out boxes were just some of the options for students.
“The library can be an intimidating building like most buildings on campus. But I’m really hopeful that after running through our stacks playing laser tag and searching for clues in our archives, we managed to eliminate a lot of the hesitation that students feel when encountering their university library for the first time,” Strand said.
According to gate counts, approximately 1,500 students attended the event.
“You never know how many students are going to attend when you put together an event like this, but the number of students who came out on Friday far exceeded our expectations,” Strand said. “We had more students in our building on Friday, laughing, talking to library staff, and just hanging out, than I have ever seen.”
USU Libraries, USU Information Technology, Connections, and the Friends of the Merrill-Cazier Library all worked together to create funding for this event. Several raffle prizes including a desktop computer and an electric scooter were given away.
“A lot of students have in their mind what an academic library should be and typically that image is stuffy, quiet and unwelcoming (cue the shushing librarian),” Strand said. “I think our new students figured out pretty quickly on Friday that our library is a place for discussion, creativity, and fun. Most importantly they learned that it is a space for them. “
More than anything, Strand said she hoped students want to come back and learn more about their library.
“I hope that our students left this event feeling proud and excited that this is their library,” Strand said. “I just want the library to be a place that our students want to come back to and that they feel welcome in, and I think we accomplished that.”
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