Nykol Eystad and Susan Stekel from Walden University, which is a completely online university, shared their experiences in trying to create a virtual open house to engage students and introduce them to library services. With Walden students being adult learners spread across the world, hosting an open house presents some challenges that a physical open house doesn’t have. You can’t distribute fliers around campus. You can’t invite people to walk into an actual building. You can’t offer food.
At Walden, the library website is the library. Asynchronous instruction is the norm. The objective of the open house was to showcase the library as a strong resource and reveal that there are real people here, they’re not bots. The library wanted to alleviate student stress and help them understand research and the databases.
The open House planning and execution involved having a dedicated open house webpage. The library conducted its open house at the beginning of the academic year and it ran for a week. The librarians didn’t want it to look like just another webinar, so they included a scavenger hunt, gave away Amazon gift cards as prizes, hidden treasures, librarian videos, and a virtual reading room. Their takeaways were:
- Consider adding a virtual open house even with a physical library
- Incorporate your website and online resources into open house
- Identify your partners and stakeholders
- Divvy up workload and responsibility
- Create multiple activities to mix and match for future events