Redesigning library orientation for first-year medical students during the pandemic
Keywords:undergraduate medical education, library orientation, remote learning
Background: Prior to 2020, library orientation for first-year medical students at Weill Cornell Medicine took the form of an on-site treasure hunt competition. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the orientation for the MD class of 2024 was shifted to an all-virtual format. This shift mandated a full redesign of the library orientation.
Case Presentation: The Samuel J. Wood Library sought to preserve the excitement and fun of the treasure hunt in the new virtual format. The competition was redesigned as a Zoom meeting using breakout rooms, with library faculty and staff serving as team facilitators. Tasks were rewritten, shifting the focus from the library’s physical spaces to its virtual services and online resources. The redesigned orientation was evaluated using two data sources: a postsession survey of student participants and a debriefing of the library employees who participated. Student evaluations were positive, while the faculty and staff provided numerous suggestions for improving future virtual orientations.
Conclusions: A successful virtual library orientation requires careful preparation, including testing the competition tasks, full rehearsal with library facilitators, and a thoughtful approach to technology and logistics. We have chosen to share the materials we developed for other academic health sciences libraries that may wish to take a similar approach to their own virtual orientations.
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