Thursday, August 11, 2016

Pokémon GO - To the Library?

Yotam Kramer, Ex Libris

All of us who know and love libraries regularly paraphrase Mark Twain: “The rumors of their demise are greatly exaggerated.” Libraries are a powerful thing in today's world, especially with all the creative activities going on within their walls. And libraries make a difference: Research shows that engaged library students and students who visit the library the most are also the most highly engaged with their university and the least likely to consider leaving school before completion. Today as always, libraries are critical hubs for learning and growth.

What are some of the things you can do to increase engagement with your community and make it clear on campus that your library is the home for both books and students?

Libraries can tap into current world trends. For example, invite students to find Pokémon in your library and create a specific event around it, directing them to books on gaming culture, gamification as a motivation tool, and other relevant topics. Stay current on the trends and learn to quickly react to them so that you stay relevant. Be interested in the world of your community and remain an active part of it.

Who doesn't like a good game? Don't stop at Pokémon GO. You can create a game that suits your needs and promotes a connection to your library. For example, O'Neill Middle School in Illinois, winner of the Follet Challenge for innovation in education, created a game called Conquest of the Realm that encouraged students to collaborate, solve puzzles, read and more. It was brilliant – and perfect for their purposes. Sit with your staff and create a game perfect for yours. Click here to read more about the game at O'Neill Middle School.

Immediate Gratification
University students today were less than 5 years old when Wikipedia was founded and only just born when Google came on the scene. Students expect to get immediate and relevant results when doing research. In order to provide service for this generation, library services must be simple, easy to use, and accessible everywhere.

While it may not seem intuitive, the more accessible you are online, the more students will see your service as relevant and remain engaged with you in your brick and mortar sites. The internet is the first and natural port of call. Having presence and easy accessibility on the web fosters engagement with services and businesses of all kinds. There’s no reason for this not to be true of libraries, and in fact, it is.

Do students need to go through hoops to take books out of the library? If they do, they may just not bother. Kansas City and Nashville linked Student IDs of public school students to their library cards, taking away an obstacle and increasing library usage in the process. Are there any obstacles in your students' path? Identify them and get rid of them.

Highlight the Students
Find innovative ways to highlight student projects and showcase their work, physically and digitally. For example, the University of Pennsylvania created a Scholarly Commons which showcases student works and allows them to be downloaded across the globe. When you are committed to students, it shows. And it makes the feeling mutual.

Engaged Library Staff
When library staff are happy and have time to roam the floor, they can engage powerfully with students, which helps students to connect to the library and want to spend more time there. Human communication -- and presence -- is key. 

Although libraries are definitely places to be quiet, by the very nature of the works they house, they are hotspots for conversation. Bringing lectures on amazing topics, screening an evening of TED talks on a certain theme or creating a community round table event on an idea that is of interest to your community keeps you relevant and a central part of your community's life. 

Revise alone in the quiet area? Meet with a study group? A library that supports different learning habits makes everyone feel "at home" when they are visiting the library.

It's what we do best. Let's make sure to do it when it is about engaging our students. There are innumerable online resources and ideas about how to engage the modern student. Find out what engages your students by keeping track of campus events and student concerns.

Do you have any additional ideas on how to engage library students?
Comment below!


  1. RMIT University Library has been running online games for students so that the students can engage with our Library resources