Pathways To Best Practice 1: Introducing users to the library


Introducing users to the library as a whole, or to a specific collection/area.

State of maturity

Early adopters – most libraries offer induction sessions but do not include mobile technologies within this.

Explanation of area

Many academic libraries use induction sessions during the first few weeks of a student’s course, and other libraries offer introductions on a group or one-to-one basis for new users. Often these activities include library tours or brief introductory presentations. Introductory guides are also sometimes used in the form of handouts/leaflets.

Mobile devices can be utilised in a number of different ways to support an introduction to the library, either within induction sessions or for self-guided introductions. Some activities may encourage the use of people’s own mobile devices whilst others may require the library to loan devices.

Common uses for using mobile devices to introduce users to the library include:

  • Using mobile devices within induction sessions (e.g. treasure/scavenger hunts)
  • Using mobile devices to deliver tours
  • Offering introductory guides via mobile devices
  • Using QR codes or augmented reality on physical handouts to enhance with electronic content

Examples of work in area

Library Sector Country Overview of work Links/resources
LSE Higher Education UK QR code treasure hunt for induction Orientation Treasure Hunt
University of Limerick Higher Education Ireland Audio tour for iPods and MP3 players University of Limerick Library Audio Tour
NCSU Higher Education USA Scavenger hunt using Evernote on iPod Touch to collect responses NCSU Libraries Mobile Scavenger Hunt: Not your typical library orientation
Back to School: An Evernote Scavenger Hunt
Onondaga Community College Higher Education USA Using SCVNGR mobile app to set up an orientation trek Library SCVNGR Orientation Trek

Lessons learned from work so far

General tips:

  • Introduction activities should be fun or relevant, and ideally both
  • Creative use of activities should be encouraged (e.g. photo or audio responses to treasure/scavenger hunt)
  • If activities are user-directed, offer alternative ways of completing (e.g. paper version for those who may not have smartphones)
  • Test any new developments with a friendly pilot group to identify any potential issues before going large scale
  • Be aware of infrastructure issues – is wifi reliable in the areas needed? Work with IT to resolve any issues before launching
  • Be aware of any dependencies – web access, space changes etc.

Treasure/scavenger hunts:

  • Encourage deeper level of learning by getting users to explore different areas of the library for themselves
  • Facilitated tours and treasure/scavenger hunts work best when a known audience will be participating – activities can be tailored appropriately and a known number can be planned for and staffed accurately
  • QR code scavenger hunts
    • arrange into teams/groups (each one needs a mobile device)
    • provide a variety of questions
    • keep a record of where each QR code is located (so they can easily be removed)

Audio tours:

  • Consider loaning of MP3 players or iPod touches if offering an audio tour
  • Share a script of audio tours so users can keep a copy and make notes if they wish

Key contacts

Clive Wilson (LSE) –
Anne Burke (NCSU) –

Useful links

QR Code Scavenger Hunt at Chesterfield County Public Library to promote library services to teens.
LS Code Breaker Challenge at Edge Hill University.
Overnight Scavenger Hunt at New York Public library.
QR codes for a library audio tour at Brigham Young University (review of ACRL presentation by Michael Whitchurch).
UC San Diego Libraries SCVNGR challenge.
QR Code Scavenger Hunt at Addlestone Library (College of Charleston Libraries) – includes lots of different types of QR codes and activities i.e. co-ordinates, contacts, URLs, SMS.

Updated: 23 August 2012 by Jo Alcock as part of JISC m-library community support project.

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