Murder in the Stacks: Creating a Library Mystery Night
With information literacy being a key learning outcome at Santa Fe College, the library is in the position to help students fulfill this outcome. Many professors bring their classes to the library for information literacy instruction sessions, but this does not reach everyone. The library has attempted to hold drop-in workshops before, but attendance was sparse. The library was looking for a way to introduce students to the library that would be fun for the students and the library staff.
In the fall of 2009, the Lawrence W. Tyree Library staff decided to create an event that would teach library basics while still being entertaining. Ramona Miller-Ridlon proposed creating a “Library Mystery Night” that would feature the librarians as murder suspects and give students clues to follow through the library in order to solve the mystery. A group of librarians worked together to create a backstory, viable murder suspects, and the actual clues.
The clues led students to various places in the library and on the library website, with emphasis on the following concepts: circulating books, reference books, print journals, electronic databases, course reserves, audiovisual collection, group study rooms and the copy room. This was patterned after the library scavenger hunts used in library orientations for SLS1101 (College Success), and gave the participants familiarity with a wide variety of library resources and services. The first groups to win would receive free movie passes and there would also be door prizes.
The library held two events in 2009: one at 2:00pm and another at 7:00pm. Both events were full, and student feedback was extremely positive. Two athletic coaches (women’s basketball and fast pitch) had their student athletes participate.
Since feedback was so positive, the library held Library Mystery Night events in the fall of 2010 and 2011. The themes were “Literary Murders” and “Murder Stories” respectively. Each year, due to overwhelming popularity, the library elected to hold three events: one at 2:00pm and another at 7:00pm, as well as a separate event specifically for the student athletes.
These events have been very successful, with more students participating each time. (In the fall of 2011, 92 students participated in the event) They have been very successful on campus and have garnered good feedback. This has helped keep our library “vibrant and vital” on the Santa Fe College campus, showing students that libraries can be fun while serving an important function.
If accepted, the Lawrence W. Tyree Library poster will show how the Library Mystery Night was conducted, statistics on participation, relevant artifacts and photos and comments from events. The librarians presenting the poster plan to wear costumes worn at past Library Mystery Nights.
You are welcome to view photos from the latest Mystery Night at http://www.sfcollege.edu/library/index.php?section=events/mysterynight_2011.