Thursday, January 7, 2016

Designing Programming with the Patron in Mind

I teach at an academic magnet high school where 99% + of my students go to college.  This is my fifth year as librarian, and I’ve noticed how stressful midterms are for my students.  A few years ago, I started an after-school event to promote the library’s resources for preparing for midterms, which I deemed Studypalooza.  With free food (and lots of it), available study guides, and materials for test preparation (free notecards, white boards, etc.), it’s always been a big hit.  This year, however, I decided that I could offer more to my students.

I’ve never been happy about the fact that Studypalooza had so many students who were studying, but without any real guidance.  I certainly couldn’t help with Physics or Chemistry.  So this year, I tried something new: I partnered with our National Honor Society (NHS), and I specifically recruited tutors from NHS for the hardest exams – math, the sciences, world languages, and the like.  We had everything covered! I then asked 4 nearby teachers if I could borrow their room for Studypalooza, and they said YES!  With everything in place, I advertised as well as I could using email, my twitter and Facebook page, and intercom announcements.  I have over 100 people show up!

After getting their food, I had students spread out with tutors into different rooms.  Anticipating a large number for physics, they had their own room, with a tutor who had successfully completed the course before, and was planning on being a physics major in college.  The NHS tutors had done a great job of preparing by talking to the teachers in the subjects they would be tutoring.

The event was a big success, and I think it will only improve from here! If there was any advice I would give, it is to think big and look at what other libraries do.  I often look at what sort of outreach college libraries have, and I try to implement some of those same events.  We also hosted therapy dogs where students could distress right before exams! 

A few students came to see me after they had finished their exam and personally thanked me for hosting Studypalooza.  I know that some students received higher midterm grades than if they had not come to Studypalooza.

MNPS Librarian
@asmithfield @hfalibrary

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