So Overt It’s Covert: Learning via Games in the Library
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At Texas Tech University (TTU) Libraries, our librarians are passionately dedicated to helping the campus, working to support the intellectual inquiries and discoveries of our students, faculty, and staff. Often, however, our assets—our resources but also our staff and our building itself—seem to remain hidden in plain sight. Although our building has unusual architecture and is in a prominent, busy area of campus, many students are unaware that it is a library or what is inside ready for their use. We wanted students to learn about our resources and how not to be intimidated by the library. Drawing from previous experiences at our library and our own personal interests, we decided to experiment with using different kinds of games in the library to support student success through low-stakes practice and acclimation. More than just fun pastimes, games also can serve as teaching tools and social bonding experiences. Our goal was to introduce students to our resources, building, and staff in a way that would be fun not only for them but also for ourselves. By being very overt with the intent to teach them how to use the library and have fun, we hoped to covertly get past the students’ anxiety and trepidation. The three principles underlying our efforts were setting up games as “camogogy” (camouflaged pedagogy), facilitating students’ social connections with peers, and promoting engagement with librarians and the library. We tried a varied approach to reach our goal by hosting mystery games and trivia nights, building upon our library services fair experiences.