By Joel Roberts
University of Memphis
This essay began as a discussion about the increase in traffic that my branch academic library, which is a music library, experienced between 2016 and 2019. The catalyst for this increase was implementing events and programming that were marketed towards all students, not just music students. The decision to write this up was the result of feedback I received from a poster session that I gave at a conference at the beginning of 2020, a year that proved to be a transitional year for everyone. As a result of how that year progressed, I came close to abandoning this project because I began to view a discussion about the potential for events and programming to create an increase in traffic as irrelevant in an environment where gatherings were ill-advised. Furthermore, reopening after the initial COVID lockdown revealed that far fewer patrons were visiting my library compared to before the pandemic. During the 2021-2022 academic year when students were back on campus in full, our daily traffic average was lower than it had been before COVID. Thus, the gains in traffic that I had witnessed had been eliminated by the pandemic.
Continue reading Diversifying the Portfolio: Expanding the Patron Base of Branch Libraries
By Chelsea Humphries
Liaison & Collections Librarian
James A. Gibson Library
Wellness initiatives on academic campuses are growing, and they are increasingly important as mental health declines and mental health problems continue to be exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Academic libraries are the spaces in which wellness initiatives can be brought to the frontlines, meeting students in the spaces within which they study and conduct their research. As a liaison librarian and a yoga instructor, my goal has been to humanize the academic library space with yoga as a mindful movement practice supporting wellness initiatives on campus and the library’s strategic priority of supporting student success. Upon remotely starting my role as a liaison librarian during the COVID-19 pandemic, I started a virtual Library Yoga program intended to support students and the broader university community as they cope with the stresses of working remotely. I offered both synchronous and recorded yoga sessions during the fall and winter terms. To ascertain the impact and value of this program, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, I conducted a web survey among Library Yoga participants (n=14). Survey results indicate that the program reduced stress, fostered a sense of community, challenged library anxiety and misperceptions of the profession, and provided an opportunity for library outreach. It also fostered relationships among organizations on campus during a time when remote work has challenged our abilities to coalesce as a community. These investigations confirm that the library is more than its spaces and collections; it has the ability to set the tone for academic experience with its services, staff, and the community it brings together. Continue reading “Relaxed and Refreshed, Prepared to Learn”: Experiences With Virtual Yoga Programming in the Academic Library
By Jennifer Wilhelm
Assistant Professor, Texas A&M University University Libraries
and Jessica Jones
Branch Manager, Bryan + College Station Public Library System
In 2016, the Bryan + College Station Public Library System received a $1,000 grant to conduct informal STEM programs for adults. The library’s stated goals were to encourage lifelong learning and civic engagement through informal STEM programs, increase and diversify adult program attendance, and strengthen ties to both the local university and the community. In addition, we wished to promote the idea of libraries as safe spaces for controversial topics; in this case, climate change. This article will examine the experience of developing, promoting, and executing an informal STEM program for adults. The resulting three-part program was divided into book club and science café portions, and was partially facilitated by a science partner. The goals were reached and surpassed, with the resulting increase in adult attendance and positive reaction to a climate change program encouraging the system to increase its STEM-based offerings for adults.
Continue reading Adults Need STEM, Too: An Assessment of One Public Library’s Experiment With STEM Programming for Adults