The week before last, I got a spontaneous call from a middle school teacher right up the road from my primary library. She said she wanted to bring three classes to the library for a tour and presentation on research tools the next week.
After a few seconds of silent processing over the phone, I stammered, “Uhm…sure?”
So we got it on the books exactly a week before they were set to come and I started frantically reaching out to all my expert friends for help. I’d only ever done tours for elementary-aged kids and there is a big difference. I find middle schoolers to be hard to pin down. They’re not just kids anymore but they’re not in that stage of teen-hood where they’ve let go of childlike impulses and interests. Also, I think they’re the age group that can be most…mean. They don’t really have handle on tact or subtlety yet, so if they’re dissatisfied, you know it.
So I got some good suggestions from people and decided that getting research help out of the way first would leave me some time for the fun of showing them our digital libraries and getting to know the library with a QR scavenger hunt.
I had the kids come straight into my program area, where I had a projector set-up and ready to show them a few of our databases. (For NC librarians, I chose to go over the Biography Reference Center, Student Research Center, and Science Reference Center–all on NCLive.) The kids all brought their school iPads, so I had them each attempt to find an article during this part of the presentation. With a little help from me and their teachers, everyone found something for their upcoming research project. I also pointed out where to find the information to include in their works cited.
So then I livened things up by showing everyone how to use Hoopla to download their favorite music, audiobooks, movies, and TV shows. This, of course, was a huge hit. Fun fact: Even 8th graders are obsessed with Frozen. Every time I brought up music, they wanted to download the Frozen soundtrack.
Finally, I arranged a QR code scavenger hunt by hiding 5 QR codes in areas where they could possibly find help with their research. I linked the codes to fun gifs of characters happy dancing.
The result: A knockout. Most kids seemed to have a ball with the scavenger hunt and we made sure that everyone had a library card before leaving. There were only a couple Negative Nancies that I spotted, but what are you gonna do? 😉