Monthly Archives: June 2016

Analyzing Scavenger Hunt Scores to Understand Library Familiarity Among Incoming Students

 

When I was a kid I loved scavenger hunts– the harder, the better! Whenever we took a field trip with school I preferred to explore a museum or new place with a scavenger hunt, rather than have someone show me around on a long tour of things I wouldn’t remember. Scavenger hunts contained mysteries that were fun to solve, making the places and objects I found more interesting when I finally found them.

A year ago the Burke Library decided to flip the script on the standard orientation tours held for incoming Union Theological Seminary students and created a scavenger hunt. The scavenger hunt was designed so that students can get introduced to the library by finding features in the books, the building, the computer stations, the online catalog, and the library manual. Each feature is something students need to know how to find, in order to make the most out of the library’s many resources while they are in studying towards their degrees. After doing the scavenger hunt, the idea is, students will know how to find the resources with ease once classes start.

This summer I am assessing student responses from last fall’s inaugural hunt in order to revamp the questions where necessary.  I am passionate about making sure students have easy access to all the resources they need for their studies. As a student, I know it can be frustrating to need a book or article urgently, but not know how to get it. Especially if one is a “new kid in town” and has never used the library before. The best time to learn how to access library materials is BEFORE classes begin, not the day before a reading assignment is due. That’s why it’s important that the scavenger hunt give students a thorough introduction to the library during orientation, so they can be fully prepared to gain access to the materials they need ahead of time.

From looking at the scavenger hunt results, it seems that new students last fall had the most trouble with understanding three particular types of library resources: periodicals, databases, and BorrowDirect/InterLibrary Loan options. This is understandable for many possible reasons: students who did their undergraduate studies many years ago might not have used any kind of online catalog before; students who are new to the Columbia University Libraries may never have heard of BorrowDirect or InterLibrary Loan and not know the difference between them or what they are for, etc. There are many factors that could be affecting so many students’ answers. I am looking forward to conducting further analysis on the results of the scavenger hunt and seeking to make sure my fellow students have access to the kinds of information materials they need for their studies here at Union.

Behind the Stacks: Manuscript facsimile

In youth, I spent interminable hours copying out by hand long passages of the Bible for Sunday school. I also remember dutifully copying out lecture notes in school and feeling grateful for mechanical pencils (no sharpening!). These days, I use my phone to snap a picture of some text, printed or handwritten, and in a few moments have an OCR (optical character recognition) converted text file to save, share, or copy-paste however I want. The motivations behind these actions are different, but I had reason to reflect on the far cry between such modes of copying when I happened upon this title in Burke’s Special Collections:

Eröffneter Weg zum Frieden mit Gott und allen Creatüren, dürch die Publication der sämmtlichen Schrifften Christiani Democriti

Eroffneter Weg title 1

Produced in the 18th century, well into print culture, this very long manuscript copy of an already printed publication is an intriguing item that was quietly posing as a printed book among thousands of others in our special collections. I happened to open it in the process of measuring a number of our rare books for preservation boxes, and noticed that it was not actually print. We’ve since reclassified it into Burke’s manuscript collection.

Eroffneter Weg praefatioEroffneter Weg caput

The 2 volumes contain over 2,000 hand-written and -drawn pages, painstakingly copying not only the text but the printed ornaments from its source.

Eroffneter Weg orthodoxieEroffneter Weg ende

Even the frontispieces are drawn in imitation of [probably] etchings.

Eroffneter Weg frontispiece 1Eroffneter Weg frontispiece 2

(For comparison, a printed copy of the title held by Princeton University can be viewed here: https://clio.columbia.edu/catalog/9377442)

We welcome and invite you to view this or other special collections held by the Burke Library; to learn more about visiting our library or to make an appointment please visit our website.