Flipping Library Orientation

Love it or hate it…the idea of the flipped classroom has people (I can’t resist) flipping out.  For me, the beauty of flipping is the opportunity to reevaluate what is important; in other words, how do you want to spend your face-to-face time with students?  With this frame in mind, my library director and I began rethinking freshman library orientation.  In my new school (I recently moved from Pennington, NJ to Seattle, WA), orientation is 45 minutes.  That’s not a lot of time, so we decided to limit the time spent on library functions and rules.  I’m not dismissing the importance of setting out community expectations, but my colleague and I wondered how big an impact this made and if there weren’t more important issues to discuss.  Thinking about the flipped classroom opened up the door to a new way of thinking about our orientation.

The other impact on our orientation was an article shared by our middle school librarian called “What Students Don’t Know” from Inside Higher Ed.  The article discusses findings from a study of college students including the idea that students simply don’t understand the role of the librarian:

students rarely ask librarians for help, even when they need it. The idea of a librarian as an academic expert who is available to talk about assignments and hold their hands through the research process is, in fact, foreign to most students.

Our discussion of this article and the flipped classroom brought us to think about what we really want our orientation to be.  In the time we had, we made a few changes in an attempt to use our time with the students as wisely as possible.  Though it wasn’t perfect by any means and we tried to fit in too much, here’s a run-down of what students did at home and in-person:

We’re already imaging what we can do differently next year especially since we might have more time!  Please consider sharing orientation strategies in your school.