Library Graffiti

by Vicky on May 24, 2010

We discovered this pro-library graffiti in the women’s restroom at our branch the other day… How cool is that?  I’ll admit that I have a thing for graffiti.  Several years ago, I ran across this great example on Flickr from Barcelona (Creative Commons license:Some rights reserved):

By Christian Bering: click image to link to his site.

This was when I was a new librarian at Diné College, the Navajo tribal college.  I was struggling to fit in to a very different culture, and failing dismally to connect with students.  Inspired by this image, I created some digital graffiti of my own as part of a presentation introducing students to the college library:

…and this further inspired the design for a give-away mug.

Few people have any idea of the vastness of the Navajo Nation, which is the size of West Virginia.  Diné College has three campuses with libraries, one in Arizona and two in New Mexico.  But when I began my job as the traveling instruction librarian, students who attended classes at the remote centers didn’t even know that the libraries existed.  I created flyers advertising my upcoming visits using the “Go to the Library ONLINE 24/7″ image, and I also used it (coupled with the “Out of the Clubs and Into the Libraries” image) in a Powerpoint presentation introducing them to the library.  Later we created the mugs to give away to students at the remote centers.

It worked!  The students related to the cool edginess of the graffiti images, and they loved the 24/7 availability of so much information.

Since undergraduate students are notorious for pulling all-nighters to finish papers and projects, they were thrilled to find out how much information was available to support their last-minute information needs. I also designed an information literacy curriculum based on the Diné educational paradigm, which emphasized a balanced approach for conceiving, planning, executing, and evaluating a project, and I showed them examples of the library’s outstanding collection of Navajo materials and walked them through the process of requesting materials to be sent to them. So, like every good instruction librarian, I showed them that research takes time, and I encouraged—nay, exhorted!—them to begin their research early.

But somehow the graffiti and tips on 24/7 resources convinced them that I was on their side and was, in fact, no stranger to last-minute, late-night study sessions.

The “Out of the Clubs and Into the Libraries” image also inspired me to work with a humanities faculty member to start Friday Nights @ the Library, an open-mic community coffeehouse.  This was a way of bringing the oral tradition back into the library, along with music, art, conversation, and other forms of cultural expression.  And it gave me a chance to create my very first actual graffiti on campus!

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