Scavenger Hunt: Learning about the Library through Game and Technology


Reference & Instruction Librarians Derek Zoladz and James Castrillo at the International Student Orientation

In January 2014, my fellow reference and instruction librarian, Derek Zoladz, and I had the pleasure of hosting students at the Columbus State Community College Library. These students were participating in a campus wide orientation program tailored for international students. Traditionally, the library segment of this program was taught through a PowerPoint presentation that served as an orientation to the library. This PowerPoint was one of many that students listened to during a busy first day at Columbus State; however, we desired a more dynamic and interactive program to introduce students to library services.  After discovering an innovative way the librarians at North Carolina State University conducted their library orientation program with iPod touches, a similar activity was adapted for use at Columbus State’s Library (Burke and Lai 2012). Our library received new iPads, and we developed a new program to incorporate these devices into our orientation instruction. Students would now come into the library for a hands-on activity to learn about different library services using the iPads.

Derek and I developed our own version of a scavenger hunt activity within the library at Columbus State. The program involved splitting the students into separate teams and assigning each team a library floor to explore. Each team would be given a packet containing a map of their assigned floor. The packet also contained a list of clues to help the students identify and interact with different library services. Finally, the students would be required to document these various interactions by capturing photos with the iPad’s camera. A point value was assigned to each clue with the idea that the team scoring the most points would win a “grand prize,” a grab bag filled with library related goodies.

When our students arrived at the library on the morning of January 10th, they were just beginning their day after a short campus tour. The students were already separated into teams for other group activities during the day. After receiving a short introduction to the activity, each team was let loose to explore the library and solve their clues. Because the teams were spread out on different floors of the library, monitoring their progress was difficult. To mediate this, the photo library of each iPad was synced to a private Flickr album. Every time a picture was captured on an iPad, it was uploaded to the Flickr account, which allowed monitoring student progress for the activity in real time.  Our biggest concern was if teams would be able to solve all eight clues in the fifteen minutes allotted to explore their respective floor. Both Derek and I were relieved to discover the allotted time proved to be adequate and that the students had fun completing the scavenger hunt.

We regrouped in the library instruction lab and reviewed the photos taken by our students. A discussion was held regarding each service captured in the photos. The outcome of the event was a tie, and both teams were rewarded with library grab bags. This tie was considered an additional success for the activity. A great part of this program is its ability for students to engage in active learning about the library services through the exploratory aspect it provides. Students’ frequent usage of smartphones and tablets in today’s technological climate allows an instruction program such as this to take place with only a brief introduction to the activity. Our program received positive feedback from the program coordinator. We were informed that many students commented on the library as the most interesting and fun part of their orientation. I believe this program to be successful and proven as an effective alternative to our traditional orientation lecture.


1. Burke, Anne, and Adrienne Lai. “iPod Apps, Mobile Learning, Game Dynamics: This            Ain’t Your Typical Library Orientation.” Interactive workshop at the annual conference      of LOEX, Columbus, Ohio, May 4-5, 2012.

James Castrillo
Columbus State Community College

This entry was posted in Cool Tools, Featured Blogger, Information Literacy, One Shots. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Scavenger Hunt: Learning about the Library through Game and Technology

  1. snowcaps says:

    Great idea, I love the idea of uploading to Flickr in real time combined with the discussion afterwards!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.