Library User Engagement

Defining and operationalizing student engagement activities offers an academic librarian a broad scope of programming options. In recent years, outreach librarians engage users through innovative and non-traditional practices. These practices, transferrable to the public library environment, include:

  • Developing a “pop-up library”  where a librarian takes a mobile kiosk complete with library terminal and a few resources to on-campus events (open-house, guest speaker events, student association events, etc.).
  • Taking library services to where students gather (residences, cafes, cafeteria).
  • Dropping in acknowledging their efforts.  For example, taking healthy treats to where library users are working along with a small postcard outlining relevant library services aids in building library-student relationships.
  • Connecting with library users and community using social media.  This now-defunct blog, Library Matters, tested student interest in using this form of social media and electronic communications.
  • Opening the library for a themed 24-hour period during the week before final exams providing healthy snacks, hydration, and on-site library staff.
  • Offering instructive games and quests both online and on-site.
  • Preparing relevant and professional videos accessed online and on monitors through the library and learning commons area.
  • Creating a “pre-show”, a library pre-show is a looping presentation with fun facts, trivia, and promotional messages playing in the 10 minutes before the start of classes.
  • Creating student-focused and student-facing messages, for example: postcard of the first 5 top tips or things a new student can do to orient themselves to their new learning environment and the library (use your Student ID Card, sign up for a library workshop, check  out the library’s Subject Guides, Ask a Library Staff).
  • Providing real-life examples of how the library fits into a student and community life, for example:  Show how an Anthropology student uses the library as a meeting place to get a coffee and join their friends in between classes; how a psychology student uses the library’s extended hours during the exam period to study for their mid-term using the library’s quiet study carrels.
  • Thanking library users for using the library by creating a specific “It’s Your Library Day ” which might include activities such as a picture postcard booth, where pictures of students were taken and digitized into personalized library-themed postcards, or a maker-space style event where student create something unusual.
  • Building relationships with art instructors offering library space for a year-end student art display.
  • Build capacity of connecting cross-campus departments to develop a Poster Competition.
  • Collaborate with a Computer and IT departments to develop LEGO Robotics events.
  • Build a strong working relationship with biology, chemistry, architecture, and other design-based departments to create a 3-D printer competition.

I use the ARCS Model of Motivational Design created by John Keller as a guide when creating flexible, scalable, and relevant learning opportunities for diverse student populations.

Each learning opportunity incorporates one or more of these characteristics:

  • Active participation through games or hands-on skill development practice where learners actively participate in their learning process.
  • Use humor, though cautiously and sparingly, as an attention tool.
  • Present a statement contrary to a known fact opening opportunities for discussions to learn about the subject and how to conduct an effective inquiry.
  • Use appropriate technology and a variety of media and presentation formats allowing learners to interact with the media and content.
  • Connect outcomes to a practical application of learning to their assignment or course or daily life.

The ARCS Model:

Relevance – Present information by linking new ideas and information to information learners already know. Demonstrate through modelling how new idea or information can be used for their assignment or course or daily life.

Confidence – Allow learners control of the learning process employing a looping feedback strategy where learners share experiences and instructors provide structure.

Satisfaction – Appropriate feedback gives structure to the learning process increasing learners sense of achievement and skills mastery.


Research Strategies: Citation Tracking


Finding and understanding resources and sources for use in research for this program is foundational for student success. After participating in this session students:

  • Consider the importance of developing a rigorous and achievable research strategy
  • Demonstrate an ability to locate reliable online (Internet) sources
  • Execute efficient database search
  • Locate credible and relevant articles using online library subscription databases
  • Follow a citation trail using online library databases & Google Scholar

 Essential Characteristics:




  • collaborative activity
  • single activity
  • group activity
  • Critical thinking discussion
  • Problem-solving
  • Resource exploration
  • Single
  • Multipack
  • Blended
  • Online

Step-By-Step Directions

1) In-class resources required: whiteboard markers, eraser, whiteboards, presentation console with an Internet connection, projector, and monitor.

2) Request faculty to load Harold B. Lee Library SMART Basic Research (with permissions) video and tutorial making it a required viewing for students prior to this library instruction session.

3) Prepare specific search topic list relevant to course and curriculum.

4) Demonstrate citation tracking using various online and database tools.

5) Students form small buzz groups of 2 – 3.

6) Provide students with a guide

7) Students find an article in a database.

8) Students select a number several items listed in the article reference list.

9) Student search for those articles using Library SEARCH ALL search engine or Google Scholar.

10) Students complete a prepared worksheet identifying citation elements.

11) Students prepare to present their search strategies and finding to the piers.

12) Several groups present findings and describe steps taken specifically stating the relevance of cited item found in the context of citation tracking.

Online/Blended Implementation:  Using online forum discussion feature of learning management system, students completed segments of citation tracking strategy uploading screenshots of their searches and results list.

Variations:  This SET is scalable and adaptable to various subjects and topics in both online and face-to-face environments.

Hints and Tips:  Well in advance, practice citation tracking using your chosen topics ensuring articles are found in both licensed databases and Google Scholar.

Resources:  Use course and subject specific databases.


COTR ILSD Lesson Plan ENGL 100 2016

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