Monday, November 07, 2005

Capturing Students' Interest with Fun Facts at Cal State Library

True or false - you can capture students' interest and teach them about library resources using fun facts and reference stats? True, says Rachael Green Clemens, distance education librarian at California State University Fullerton's Pollak Library.

Today on the AcademicPR discussion list, Clemens shared how she created a twist on commercial advertisements like those you might see projected onto large buildings in a place like downtown Los Angeles. Clemens created her "reference slide show" two years ago by creating a long, continuously looping PowerPoint slide show and projecting it on a very large wall abover the reference desk area.

"I collected about 150 Q&A's and made eye-catching slides that project for about 16 seconds each...akin to the trivia questions you often see in a movie theatre. I intersperse these Q&A's with library information - such as advertisements for chat reference service, photocopier info, library website tidbits, etc." Clemens wrote.

Clemens describes the project as a fun one that really gets results. "Students often linger at the desk waiting for the answers to the questions. I made a point to add the 'source' of the information - hoping to highlight library resources and model good citation practice."

The slides include a wide variety of facts and fun trivia. Examples include:
Q: What was the median home price in Orange County in July 2005?
A: $603,000 (source: Los Angeles Times article accessed through Proquest Newspapers)

Q: How many new hybrid vehicles were registered in the U.S. in 2004?
A: 83,156 (source: Article in AdWeek accessed through TableBase)

Q: How many gallons of soft drinks were consumed in the U.S. in 2002
A: 15.2 billion gallons (source: Beverage Aisle through Lexis-Nexis)
The slide show, which provides one and a half hours of programming on a continuous loop, is updated each semester to keep it interesting. In the future, Clemens plans to move the slide show onto a new large plasma screen that is hung in the library atrium.

Many thanks to Rachael Green Clemens for sharing this information and giving me permission to post it.

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