As I mentioned in the original post , our goal was to host an event for incoming freshmen with mass appeal. We pulled together a few specialized activities, such as speed dating and ninja tag , and surrounded them with games , food, and other amusements.
Food is a big deal. The common thought is that you can draw people into any event if you feed them. Two years ago we offered pizza, but it went too quickly. Last year we offered hot dogs and were stuck with tons of leftovers. This year we switched back over to pizza. Dominos offers mediums for $5 each, so we planned on ordering 100 pizzas, 25 each hour. We had to alter our plans because turnout was greater than expected. Dominos suggested we pay $2 more for larges—which seemed to work out much better and over all didn’t cost us too much more. (Yeah, yeah, I know they just wanted to get paid!)
Students had to wait in a long line until our second delivery arrived. Next time we’ll order 75 pizzas from the start and then go from there. We’ll also consider two lines, two separate distribution points to help spread people around. We also tried to diversify our pizza toppings, but the old saying, ‘you can’t please everyone’ is so true. Next time, half with pizzas will be just cheese, since that’s what people wanted the most. Sorry you veggie people.
We are very fortunate to have Coca Cola as neighbors; they are literally just across the street from us. Coke donated about 250 bottles of soda and water, which greatly helped keep our costs down, however we ended needing to purchase additional drinks. Diet and Zero didn’t go so well, whereas water, Coke Classic, and Vault were gone quickly. We used the kiddie pools with ice distribution method.
We also rented two popcorn machines for around $200 and set them up in different zones. One was near movies, of course. There is just something cool about movie theater style popcorn that cannot be duplicated in a microwave.
This trifecta of soda, pizza, and popcorn worked well and we’ll probably offer those again next year. Don’t forget about plates and napkins.
Movies are nice, but attendance was pretty weak. We offered a handful of Dave Chappelle and Aqua Teen Hunger Force episodes, along with some short student films. Our aim was to capture the passerby with short funny videos, as opposed to a longer feature like Shaun of the Dead . I guess I wanted us to strive for the ‘sampling’ model in which everyone spent a few minutes in each zone. Location might have been an issue here because the movies were tucked away from the heart of the activity. Maybe if these were viewable from the food line, people would enjoy them? Once students picked up their drink and pizza, they seemed focused on talking, hanging out, or playing games. They didn’t want to sit around and watch TV shows.
Music draws people in… that’s what we found out. The student radio station set up just outside the Library and played an eclectic mix. This entertained people who were waiting while we rushed with last minute prep. It also let the campus know that something was up!
As I mentioned in the original post , we had specific music for dating and tag. We wanted each zone to have a unique feel. I wanted to feature live bands doing short acoustical sets, hopefully next year. We were able to feature the GT improv comedy troupe, Let’s Try This !. They did two shows, the first one (8pm) had about 100 people, while the later one (10pm) had about 15.
The Freshmen Orientation office gave away free t-shirts, but we wish we had something to offer too. Not typical library things like pens, candy, or bookmarks, but maybe 1 free itunes download, or temporary tattoos, I don’t know, something… something inexpensive that we could give a lot of. We spoke about doing a raffle, but those are so random, I’d rather we have some type of mind game, puzzle, or challenge that they could complete in order to be eligible for a variety of prizes. Lots of room for improvement.
(Next up is the ‘justification’ – why do we do these things? Academic Libraries are all about books, journals, computers and studying, right? Oh yeah, and information literacy!)