As we have learned from the First Year Experience forums, the transition from high school to university can be a difficult one, with students often experiencing high levels of stress and anxiety as they enter the unknown and unfamiliar world of higher education. This can also bring loneliness, isolation and feeling overwhelmed. To help counter these issues, since 2010, the staff of UTS Library have been running a fun-filled Orientation activity called Play Day.

The intention of Play Day is to introduce students to the library and to each other in a fun and friendly way. Almost all library staff participate in running and planning the event so it’s also a great team building opportunity for staff.

Starting with around 400 students in 2010, it has grown in size and ambition every year since. In 2017 – next week – we have 1500 registrations! With each iteration we have collected feedback and tweaked all aspects of the day, adding more and more activities and retiring those that weren’t popular. Being responsive to students’ feedback is a core value of the library.

It’s a fun packed 4 hours (it’s actually a half day over lunch time). The library provides free pizza and water as well as prizes and giveaways. Activities have always leaned towards fun however there are several key “anchor” activities that cover information literacy 101 principles for new students.

The Scavenger Hunt leads players through a series of clues around the library that teach them how to do the basics including: finding a book, getting help, printing and more. It also helps students familiarise themselves with the library spaces, so that it starts to feel comfortable and familiar to them. The Scavenger Hunt is hugely popular and is run several times on the day. We also run an online quiz in which students learn about library services.

Play Day has also shaped how we deliver our information literacy training. The Scavenger Hunt model has been successfully used to introduce new students to the library by a variety of faculties including Health, FASS and MDSI. It has also pollinated other student focused activities in the wider university community.
Other games and activities include: paper plane making, xbox, games in our games room, ping pong, reading games, maker/craft space, board games, zine making, face/body painting, various “giant” games including Jenga and snakes & ladders, as well tarot card reading.

The library works closely with other student support staff on campus to promote Play Day. We also ask them to promote their services and provide them with their own space in the library to do this. Students volunteer to help on the day and play an important role in making new students feel at home.

We get great feedback and it really helps students start their academic life with a spring in their step. We also change people’s perceptions about what a library is and can be.
Why not drop by and see it in action?

March 8th 11-3pm. Pizza available from 12-2 (or till it runs out).

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