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Not Just a Space: Library Services for Faculty

November 21, 2019

As anyone who works in an academic library knows, space is a premium. As libraries resources are becoming more cemented in the digital, we are able to weed print books, and reduce staffing (albeit not always voluntarily) to create space. The trick for us, as we wrap up the second decade of the twenty-first century, is keeping our spaces relevant. 

How many times have we heard of unrelated departments moving their offices into the library? At Valley Forge Military Academy & College, we are still working to keep our spaces relevant for the students (adding individual study carrels and additional group study spaces), but our focus isn’t necessarily on the physical space so much as it’s on the programming that we offer in those spaces. We’ve also learned that it isn’t the students that we need to sell, rather it’s the faculty. 

I wrote back in March: “what can we build (or schedule) to get them to come?” and one of the tricks that we’ve discovered is to let the faculty lead the way. In addition to promoting information literacy, and the ability to reserve other library spaces for classes, we offer programming specifically for faculty as well as students.

We run a program called “Pizza and Pedagogy” two to three times each semester during lunch, and bring pizza, and help teach faculty how to leverage ed tech, gamification, or just different subscriptions. We even offer our time to facilitate classroom activities outside of information literacy. I run escape room style activities both digitally and in the tangible world, as well as scavenger hunts, in addition to other game-show-style interactive experiences. 

Another faculty-centric program is our Writers’ Retreat series. Once a month we block out three to four hours for our faculty and staff to come and work on their own scholarship, whether it’s research, writing, or prepping presentations. This is a great opportunity to remind the faculty that our resources are accessible to them as well, including interlibrary loan, and the expertise of the librarians. 

Through our relationships with faculty, we are able to get students to attend workshops, to schedule research consultations, and to leverage the services provided. 

It also doesn’t hurt to increase the number of small celebrations that we recognize, i.e. National Candy Corn Day or National Homemade Cookie Day, so the students are eager to stop in just to see what’s going on. And, for our student-focused workshops, getting faculty to offer extra credit for attendance is helpful, but so is a last minute reminder that contains the promise of food being available as well! 

 

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