Academic Engagement: A Party For Your Mind New Student Open House

Right side of a postcard for the Party for Your Mind new student open house event an U-M.

Editor’s Note: We were delighted when two librarians from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor asked us if they could write a regular column sharing their experiences with programming for academic libraries. Read the previous blog posts in the series.

This was my eleventh year coordinating an open house for new students, and to be a bit braggy, I think every year it gets a bit bigger and better! I can say this because it’s not all me by a long shot—I have amazing colleagues who give their creativity, enthusiasm, and time to this event every year. At an institution this large, our biggest challenge in offering student programming is that it’s difficult to get the word out. Luckily, we are part of a bigger program called Welcome to Michigan that involves many different campus programs and departments. We are considered an “anchor event,” so we are given special promotional attention in an online program, easy access to student volunteers, and name recognition in a campus-wide initiative to get new students involved.

We call our event “A Party for Your Mind,” and the word “party” really shapes the event. While I have noticed that other schools really strive to make their event an educational experience, we have decided that the Sunday before classes start is more of an opportunity to make an impression on students as being a friendly and helpful place on campus. The cornerstone of the event is free pizza. This year we gave out 1,200 slices! In addition to enjoying pizza, drinks, and brownies, the students participate in a variety of activities in the library, including a trivia game with prizes, palm reading, button making, a book-making activity with Arts@Michigan, video games, and more. This event is definitely one of the most fun things I get to do all year, and I love that the library makes a name for itself with new students as being a welcoming place.