On Monday, August 20, 2007, we invited all UK freshmen to our information commons, the Hub, for food and fun at The Hubbub. I'm thrilled to report we reached around 400 students in that two hour period.
I began planning in April by getting approval for the event and putting together a workgroup of interested staff to help plan. The five of us met a few times but conducted most of our business via email. I met early on with the head of New Student and Parent Programs, the group that coordinates the official freshman welcome activities. We set a date and time that worked nicely with the rest of the "K Week" schedule. Being part of K Week gave us a great deal of exposure: we were mentioned at a number of orientation sessions, we had easy access to the resident advisors for sharing flyers, plus we were front and center on all the official K Week schedule material in print and online. The people in New Student and Parent Programs were outstanding to work with, and our staff even got cool K Week t-shirts to easily identify us at the Hubbub and other K Week events. Bottom line: it is essential to work your event into the official schedule (Brian from Georgia Tech, home of a particularly outstanding freshman event, agrees).
As far as planning activities, our group had a lot of fun with this. We decided that the sky was the limit and came up with lots of fun, wacky ideas. At one point we considered setting up a makeover counter (I still think this is a good idea). We looked at renting a Money Machine for coupons and prizes but decided it was too expensive and labor-intensive. We considered a live band, but realized this might be a *little* too loud for the rest of the library. I'm envious of the wonderful things they do at Georgia Tech but realized that laser tag might be pushing it a bit for the first event--there's always Hubbub 2008! We settled on video games, Pop A Shot basketball, bellydancing, a Second Life activity, and the Palm Reading Librarian. We also utilized our whiteboards by hosting a Whiteboard Art Contest. Surprisingly the most successful event of the evening was the Palm Reading Librarian though we had a good number of bellydancers, too. Bottom line: it's okay to be far out and creative with your activities. Often those are the most successful.
You may be wondering how a Palm Reading Librarian could possibly be more popular than videogames played on wall projection. Well, the only snag of the entire event was that our video game vendor did not show up. I know. You'd think that we would have had a riot on our hands, but surprisingly, we made it through the evening without too much of a problem. I suppose copious amounts of free pizza can heal all wounds. We had considered having staff bring in video game consoles, but I was really nervous about the possibility of damage. What if someone flings your Wiimote across the room and it hits one of our lovely marble pillars? What if in the chaos of hundreds of students in the basement someone disappears with your Reaper? This was probably me being overly conservative on our first go at the Hubbub, but we all agreed that it was better to get equipment from somewhere. A couple of our video game stores in town bring equipment and games in for demos--they do it for parties, schools, church groups and the like, and were happy to do this for us. We scheduled months in advance, everything seemed to be in order when we checked in with them before the event, but then they failed to show up. The store manager kept assuring us that the staff were "on their way" but they never showed. Possibly they ended up gaming over at one of the frats as it was during Rush week. Bottom line: have more control over your game equipment. I've gone so far as to submit a proposal to purchase a few consoles for the library. Students could bring in games for a game night once or twice each semester.
Next post, I'll talk about publicity.
UPDATE: Hubbub recap part two
UPDATE: Hubbub recap part three
(Photos by Jacob Davis)