The library staff capitalizes on the day of the study break, rather than the day before. Each year we plan a series of stress relieving activities and invite other campus partners to participate. Typical activities include button making, coloring books, and puzzles. The campus Wellness Center also joins us in the library with activities; this year their stress-relief strategies included professional massages, stress-ball making, and hot cocoa. With ample amount of services on campus to reduce stress, this year the library opted for an activity that focused more on fun than stress.
While we still provided coloring books, buttons, and puzzles, this year we invited campus celebrities to the library and had students take holiday photos with some of their favorite campus faces. Our two celebrities were very different from one another, but faculty and students alike could not resist their charm. Our first celebrity, thanks to the Athletics Department, was LU Wolf, Loyola's official university mascot. Second, one of our biggest campus celebrity, Sister Jean (a 95 year old woman who has spent the last 77 years as a nun) joined us as well. Sister Jean is so popular on campus that the cheering section at our home basketball games frequently hold up giant cutouts of her head to intimidate the away team.
One of the co-chairs of our PR committee went to the dollar store and bought stockings, reindeer antlers, and a couple of other kitchy holiday decorations. We covered a couple of large pieces of foam core with wrapping paper, and used that as our backdrop and had students wear the Santa hats and other holiday accessories. We rented a high quality DSLR camera from our digital media lab. All of the photos were posted on our library's Facebook page, and we handed out social media contact cards so students could find their photos the next day. The entire event lasted 90 minutes, cost under $50, and got us around 20 new Facebook likes!
This was our first attempt at this event, and we would consider it a huge success. Talking about changes we may make for next year, our PR committee had a host of suggestions. We liked using the wrapping paper background, but we missed some library patrons by staying stationary. Next year we might consider taking a more mobile approach. We also, blindly, forgot about everyone that wanted to take a photo with their own cell phones, which made us think about developing a hashtag prior to the event, and having an Instagram contest in conjunction with the Facebook photos. We would be able to track engagement by number of times our hashtag was used, and hopefully get some new Instagram followers as well. The best part of the event was working with LU Wolf; a trained mascot, he would be so entertaining and recruit students to participate in the activities. The library staff basically sat back while he did all the work!
This event was a low cost, high impact way to provide a good-will activity for students. Was it educational? No. Was it fun? YES! While waiting in line for photos (and students were willing to wait) I kept hearing people talk about how fun it was, and how glad they were to be at the library that day. I would highly recommend you identify your campus celebrities, and invite them for a PR day at your library!