Monday, December 03, 2007

Visiting with prospective students

The first part of this post is crossposted from The Patriot Spot, which is our library's blog. After that note, I will add some additional thoughts.

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Saturday with our prospective students

One of the best parts of my job as Outreach Librarian is when I actually go out and do outreach. In other words, it’s great when I get the chance to go out and spread the good word about the library. This past Saturday (Dec. 1), the University of Texas at Tyler held its Patriot Preview Day for prospective students and their parents to “visit our campus; meet our faculty, staff and students; and ask the college-related questions you need answered!” (from the website). The library, along with other campus groups and organizations, hosted a table during the University Showcase at the Herrington Patriot Center. This gave me a great opportunity to meet with prospective students and their parents. I greeted people: I had a chance to just chat and talk to kids and their parents about the university as well as the library. I told them about some of the services we offer, and I did emphasize that our students can access our catalog as well as our databases from home (of course, for databases, this does require a log-in, which I mentioned as well). I also answered a few questions. For instance, someone was asking about tutoring on campus, and I was able to refer them to services such as those offered by the Office of Student Success. In another example, a young lady was asking about library school, so that gave me a chance to talk a bit about what it is I do and how to get the education to become a librarian.

For me, this is my first year at UT Tyler, so the event was a learning experience for me as well. I took a bit of time to walk around as well and get some information from the other groups. I also introduced myself to other campus people. Part of the reason I did that was to get a sense of just how many and what kind of services are available on the campus. Also, it is a way for me to make some contacts for library outreach as well. In addition, I also collect some of the literature the organizations and campus offices offer. I keep a small folder in my files labeled “campus information.” This is something that helps me learn more about my campus, which in turn allows me to better serve my students and patrons. The library gets a lot of questions about other campus services, so the librarians are expected to know the answers. Attending events like this is one way for me to learn those answers. Plus I get to spend time with kids and parents.

I would like to thank the Office of Admissions for inviting the library to take part in Patriot Preview Day. I am looking forward to participating again in the Spring (March 29, mark your calendars, folks). To our visitors, thank you for stopping by and spending part of your Saturday with us here at UT Tyler.

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Some of the things I learned:

  • I probably should have grabbed the tablecloth. Our library has one, but the director had pointed out it had a small stain on it. I did not actually look at it, and it probably was not noticeable. Why do I say this? Because the tables lacked tablecloths, not even the simple cheap plastic stuff. I will remember to bring our own next time.
  • Candy is good. Yes, we had a candy dish, and it was popular.
  • "Gimmes" and swag are also good. We had pens and bookmarks. One of the pens we gave out were small pocket pens that can also work as a stylus/pointer for your portable touchscreen device. I have to tell our Instruction Librarian to keep ordering them. As for me, yes, I did get some swag too when I walked around to gather the info for reference.
  • Parents very often speak for their kids. OK, I sort of knew this, but I really got to see it in action. Parents will come to the table, mine or someone else's, and do this:
    • Parent: "Hello. My kid here is thinking about majoring in engineering, yadda yadda."
    • Kid (just stands there, pretty much invisible).
    • In other words, they talk on behalf of the kid, often as if the kid was not even there. I just found that curious, I guess.
  • We do need a brochure. I became aware of this when someone walked into our library a couple of days ago asking for a short brochure about the library. I was able to satisfy that person's need with a couple of library handouts we often use for students. However, a nice, simple brochure would be nice to have. It would have been nice for the event as well. Sure, the bookmarks we used did have our library's web address and some basic information, but something a bit more colorful would be good. Guess who gets to design it now?
  • That I love doing this kind of work. In a way, this is not really work. It's just doing something I like doing. If nothing else, it is reassuring that I am in a good line of work.
  • And I almost forgot, the admissions folks placed nice small baggies of candy with a thank-you note for those attending the showcase event. Now that was a nice touch. I always like the idea of thanking others who help you out. Definitely something I try to do as well. As I always say, small details often make a difference.

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