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Making Connections on Our Campuses: MnObe Ref Fall Round Robin

Yesterday 20 or so reference librarians from the 5 Minnesota Oberlin libraries got together for one of our 3-ish annual meetings. This one was our informal “round robin” gathering where each school reports on what they’ve been doing recently, generally revolving around a theme. This time’s theme was that of connecting with people, organizations, and services on campus. These discussions are always fascinating. In fact, I tend to prefer them to the more formal presentations we do at the other meetings. Throughout this meeting I sat there taking notes on all the cool things the other libraries are doing to connect with their campuses while thinking to myself how lucky I am to have such fascinating, engaged, and imaginative colleagues.

One school has a set of faculty representatives whose job it is to act as a conduit between their fellow faculty members and the librarians. This school is also getting involved in the orientation for study abroad students, setting up library orientation for parents during new student week, and has created an online game (much like Clue) for new students to do before classes start. And that’s just one school! Another one gets 25% of their reference questions via a brand new chat reference service.  Here at Carleton we’ve been involved with campus curricular initiatives, the Writing Center, an ethnographic study on student and faculty use of visual materials, and our re-accreditation process. Several of us talked about ways in which we’re integrating library services into course management systems.

I could probably write a book on the cool things these MnObe schools are trying.  We’re all building or borrowing online tools, and we’re all thinking of ways to simultaneously get our content (and ourselves) out of the library and get our communities to come to the library (physically or otherwise).

But at least as interesting as the topics we covered was the feeling of the conversation. When I first started attending these meetings 3 years ago, even the round robin meeting was pretty formal. Each school had an alloted time period and most people brought handouts or powerpoint slides. Now we’ve gotten to know each other so much better that we happily sit around a table and spend a couple of hours in informal but productive discussion.

p.s. I’m publishing this from Flock, so we’ll see what how it looks.

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