Best Practices: Training, Laughing, and Iguanas

Trying to not miss all the great training tips to be found at the American Library Association Midwinter Conference here in Philadelphia is a little less challenging thanks to the large variety of exchanges, including reports in the daily conference newspaper, Cognotes.
“Injecting Fun into Library Orientations Using Interactive Methods,” published on page 13 of the January 13, 2008 edition, provides a great example through its summary of an Association of College and Research Library-sponsored workshop by two Cardiff University librarians. The article also leads readers to the University website to show how one of the presenters—Nigel Morgan—and a partner work.
Those following the link find a PowerPoint presentation designed to orient students to what the University library offers—and returns us to the theme of “learning and laughing,” covered briefly in a recent Infoblog posting. Whereas a typical library orientation often includes a recitation of services and rules and regulations, Morgan and his partner break the pattern by using a mixture of text, photographs, and word balloons for comic effect. The result is an entertaining, memorable, and, therefore, effective experience for the audience.
To tell students where the photocopy machines are located, one of the slides features a student who is holding a picture of a sombrero-toting reptile and saying, “My mum has e-mailed me a photo of Miguel, my pet iguana. Where can I print him out?” Those completing the orientation probably will have no problem recalling the information—but may have to stifle their giggles every time they think of that iguana while they are standing near a library photocopier.
Rather than simply providing a list of study-room locations, the librarians have another student sharing something not easily forgotten: “My tutorial group has to prepare a presentation on ‘the winter vomiting virus.’ Is there anywhere we can work together?” And instead of providing a list of library do’s and don’ts, they ask, “What really irritates the library staff?” and then provide the answer.
Which only leaves one question: how did they get that hat on that iguana?
Do you have your own examples of effective use of humor in library training programs? Share them with our colleagues by posting a comment here.