“The library is the heart of Samford.”
This phrase embellished the desktop screens in the library as students shared candy, laughed and commiserated about their various assignments. On Feb. 14, Samford’s library hosted “Speed Dating with a Library Resource” for students to build relationships with library staff and learn more about the resources available to students.
The “Speed Dating with a Library Resource” event didn’t include actual speed dating, but rather created a fun opportunity for students to enjoy candy and snacks while receiving a brief introduction to different library resources. These resources include the digital research assistant Zotero, access to books in other libraries through WorldCat, free subscriptions to The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal and access to the online statistics database Statista.
Assistant reference and instruction librarian Sarah Cooper shared how the library staff chose to frame this informational session as “speed dates” with each resource to fit the Valentine’s Day theme.
“I don’t know how we came up with the speed dating idea, but February is a good time for [an event]. Things have started, especially now that we don’t have Jan term anymore, but you’re not in the weeds like you will be later in the semester. February is a sweet spot and Valentine’s Day is built right in.”
Even though some people may have arrived and been disappointed when they didn’t find their ring-by-spring soulmate, the students were still able to enjoy good candy and great company. Junior history major Charlie Williams shared that the event intrigued him, so he came to watch from afar to investigate what was happening. But once he joined the event, he reported that he had a lovely time.
“I enjoyed getting to eat some peppermint paddies and getting some knowledge about the library. It was nice to meet some other people,” Williams said. “I would consider it a successful endeavor by my humble estimation.”
“Speeding Dating with Library Resources” is a part of the Samford Library Power Hour Series, designed to inform students about the variety of resources available to them through the library as well as form relationships between the library staff and the larger campus community. Other events in this series include “Rattled by Research,” a Halloween event created to improve research skills by analyzing articles about spooky topics, and a research poster design workshop hosted in partnership with the Samford Student Research Colloquia.
According to the associate reference and instruction librarian Lance Day, one primary goal of the event was to increase awareness of the library’s resources and encourage students to ask the librarians for help with research when they are stuck.
“I often tell students that you got [to Samford] because you’re smart and intelligent. You’ll succeed if you go to Google, and you do your projects,” Day said. “But if you give us a chance, engage in research and ask for help, you’ll make yourself a better researcher and you’ll make your life easier.”
The library staff designs different events to try to reach different audiences on campus. Some events are aimed at drawing in a large audience, while they know that other events will only get a few attendees. Day shared that the library staff uses both large and small events to accomplish their goal.
“When you give away cookies, you get 200-300 students and it’s just a way to say hello. But when you do something like the research poster [event] or the Halloween event, it’s really about rapport building and goodwill,” Day said.
Establishing relationships is very important to the library staff. According to library instruction coordinator Lauren Young, the staff enjoys nothing more than recognizing the friendly faces of students working between the bookshelves. Students that are common fixtures of the library are referred to as “regulars,” and often have a favorite spot to sit.
“It’s funny,” Young said. “During peak exam times, the place gets crowded and there will be tons of people that you have never seen before, and the regulars will lose their spots. Sometimes the regulars will stop by the desk like ‘they took my table!’”
To learn more about the resources that are available to students through Library Services, use the QR code to access more information.