Today is the Library Expo at SUNY Potsdam’s Crumb Library. The Expo is a first-year student event, aimed at getting them into the building and educating them about, we hope, one or two key facts about the library: We’re here, and we’re helpful.
We do more than that; we set up 6-10 posters with succinct messages about our services (“we have computers”, “plagiarism is complicated”, “here’s the circulation desk”, etc), and we spread them out around the first floor with a path of paper footprints to lead them from station to station. And there’s candy at each station. Never underestimate the power of candy.
At each station, the students (presumably) read the poster, (definitely) take some candy, and (this is the “work” part) fill out one clue on a crossword puzzle about the posters. Then they follow the footprints to the next one.
Jane always sets up our footprints, and she likes practical jokes. Some years, the footprints go up the wall. Some years, they go in loop-de-loops. Today they do a whirly vortex thing in front of the Reference Desk, where I’m sitting from 3-5 today for my weekly shift. True to form, some students ignore the whirly vortex, but others diligently follow it in a circle and spin in front of the desk. Some are confused by it, some laugh, some put their arms out like wings and fly in a circle, some just hop up and down and giggle.
One gregarious young man just stopped and asked me why it was there. “To make you pause and see that there’s someone who sits at this desk in front of you and is here specifically to help you.” His answer? A big grin, and “Awesome!” Then he high-fived me.
He and his buddies made a mistake, and had to do the loop again, and when he came back through he said “And your job is to help!” and high-fived me again.