Librarianship at Ontario colleges has changed significantly since the pandemic. Eva McDonald explores new challenges facing academic librarians, and how best to meet these challenges.
More than 75 students opened their hearts to the love of literature when the University of Guelph Library hosted a Blind Date with a Book event in February.
The event highlighted the Library’s Gryph Reads pleasure reading collection, which opened to students, staff and faculty in July 2013. The collection is located on the main floor of the McLaughlin Library.
With the collection established, the focus of the Gryph Reads Committee has shifted to promotion, building awareness and increasing user engagement. For our first promotion since the launch of the collection, the committee chose an event that more typically associated with public libraries.
On Feb. 11, we hosted a Blind Date with a Book event on the academic library’s bustling main floor.
This involved selecting more than 80 books from our leisure reading collection, wrapping them as “gifts” in brown paper with a bow and including a “dating profile” of what they might find inside. The event was promoted through the library’s website, social media channels and a large banner in the lobby.
The event was a wonderful success, with students stopping to explore the dating profile descriptions, open their “dates” and engage in conversations with staff about their favourite books and guilty pleasures. Many students had not been aware of the collection and were able to ask questions.
Seventy-five books were unwrapped, with many participants finding success and checking out their “dates.” But, just like real life, not all “dates” resulted in a “love connection” and sometimes the unwrapped book did not meet a reader’s expectations. However, we didn’t see this as a failure: we were still able to promote the collection and could often recommend other books they might enjoy.
The response from students was very supportive, with comments such as “Can you do this tomorrow, too?” The success of this event has prompted us to make this event a regular part of the Gryph Reads collection promotion calendar. Timing this event before the beginning of Reading Week proved a great opportunity to highlight the relaxing appeal of pleasure reading for busy students.
Melanie Parlette-Stewart is a Blended Learning Librarian at the University of Guelph Library. She can be reached at mparlett [at] uoguelph.ca.