Someone told me it’s all happening at the zoo …

Assuming you’re still interested in the Technology Petting Zoo that I mentioned briefly yesterday, here’s the story of how it all happened, and what all went down . . .

I saw this tweet in late September:

(or maybe I saw this Facebook status, I can’t remember) and immediately thought we should do something similar at our library. Asked supervisor if it would be feasible, joined forces with our Educational Technologist (hereinafter “ET”*) to organize, and begged people to contribute their talents.

My idea was that most everybody working in the library has some expertise and interest, if not passion, for something technology-based that our students/faculty/staff could benefit from learning more about and experimenting with (yeah, I ended that sentence with a preposition. Deal.).

Generalized interest from my co-workers existed, I think, but was not overly high – although some were really excited about it, and helped out a lot (seriously, could not have pulled it off without several of them really pitching in on many different aspects). I think some were dubious about the whole thing, and/or wanted something more concrete from me and ET in terms of exactly what they would be doing. But I wasn’t really  sure. And I really wanted people to be informal about it, and to be eager and interested in what they were “demo’ing,” so I didn’t have much more of a plan than, “Show up with a device (or a piece of software, etc.). Talk about what you like about the it, and how a student/prof could use it in law school.”

We got enough librarians to buy into it so that we had a room with at least five people available to demonstrate something: iOS apps, Android apps, differences between browsers, Kindles, Word formatting (this may sound odd, but every year we have students writing briefs who are stymied by requirements that they begin every section with new page numbers), the new exam software, and special scanners and how they can assist you to create a paperless office.

I ended up being fairly pleased with the whole thing. I would have liked a greater turn-out, but we never had a day where nobody showed up (we held the zoo for two-hour shifts on three different days). And it’s beginning to dawn on me that I simply can’t anticipate students’ schedules and perceived busy-ness vs. their willingness to come in for things and talk with librarians (even when there’s free food!). As an unexpected benefit, when there were no real attendees, those of us demo’ing talked with each other about our interests, and learned things we might not have otherwise.

Next time (if there is a next time!), I’ve gotta do something about getting staff more fired up. And figure out a way to hook more students. It wasn’t advertising, I don’t think. We advertised everywhere, electronic and otherwise. It could’ve been timing – law review students had their articles due, so maybe other students had long papers due? Or maybe students were just as unsure what would go on at the zoo as my co-workers were. I’m not sure.

In somewhat-related work news, I am currently setting up meeting number 2 of the “Library Student Outreach Team” (a group of librarians meet with a group of students and try to learn how the library could better serve them), so I’ll try to get a better sense of timing/scheduling from the students then.

So that’s that! See you tomorrow!

*I realize that this abbreviation is more commonly used for “Extra Terrestrial.” No disrespect intended! Really!
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