The introduction of manholes to student orientation at the University of Warwick Library
I became involved in the “Check it Out!” student orientation programme when the Enquiries Support Officer gave a presentation on the project to other staff. Check It Out sessions were split into two parts: 1. a quick tour of the main facilities, including rules and regulations, lost and found, where to get help, how to use the self issue/return machines; and 2. a screen-based presentation on using the catalogue to find things. The previous year, the presentation was centred around the record for a book called Biochemistry, which was a good, comprehensive and rather dry example of a library record.
I offered to create a bespoke record that would fulfil all the requirements of the presentation (for example, multiple locations and multiple loan types) as well as highlighting the extra functionalities of the catalogue (such as book cover display and citation information, which previously were not demonstrated. This would allow us to create a fun, interesting record that could be introduced to science, arts and social science students, and we could add everything we wanted to talk about to this one record, which could then be suppressed when not needed. In the end, the record was crafted around a real book: Drainspotting: Japanese manhole covers, which provided great scope for humour and subject headings in equal measure. The title was also misleading, allowing opportunity to highlight to students that the title was not the only information contained in the record.
Also included in the session was a serial record, and a brief introduction to electronic resources. This section was based around the New Scientist journal, and was judged suitable for all students.
In support of this presentation, and the tour of facilities that preceded it, I was also involved in creating staff training materials in a variety of formats, so that all staff could present the information consistently, and would have detailed information to fall back on if required. Videos of mock presentations were loaded onto the staff intranet to show other staff members the general procedure (and that presentations did not have to be perfect!)
I also helped to train colleagues to give the presentation and tour to students. 32 members of staff from across all library teams volunteered to deliver sessions and came to the training. Many of the staff training sessions ended with an informal question and answer session that allowed staff to ask questions about the catalogue, staff comments later indicated that it was a great opportunity to hear about the catalogue from a different point of view.
Finally, in the hectic first weeks of term, I also presented to the students themselves. This was the only opportunity over the past year for specialist cataloguers to come into contact with large numbers of library users and it also allowed students to encounter staff they normally wouldn’t see. Feedback from those who attended Check It Out was over 90% positive.
Overall, it was an excellent opportunity to show both users and colleagues the things that we could do with the catalogue, and the huge range of information it contains. It was also a step towards raising the profile of the cataloguing team by getting involved in a large library-wide project.