Sept. 11, 2007
By Anita Martin
Alden Library has a mission, and more than 125 students have already chosen to accept it.
It's the library code game, an all-play way to introduce newcomers to the library's hidden treasures. The code game presents a series of nine coded challenges through which students can independently explore the resources at Alden Library and win prizes.
Sleuths start at the second-floor Learning Commons services desk, where they receive clues.
When participants complete any of the challenges correctly, they earn a chance to win a free jump drive (one drawing each week starting last Friday) and one of the three $100 gift certificates for books (one drawing on Oct. 2). They also can win random prizes instantly, including coupons for food from local vendors, t-shirts, Frisbees and more.
Sherri Saines, reference and instruction librarian says the game familiarizes students with useful research networks, such as the ALICE catalog system and Academic Search Premiere. It also lets students know about popular library study spots, multimedia computers and other features, such as the library's Café BiblioTech and a collection of more than 39,000 documentaries and films, including many international titles.
Alden houses other little-known treasures: fascinating archives of local history, an extensive map collection, the Frederick and Kazuko Harris Art Collection, the Health Sciences Library and the Center for International Collections, which includes a Southeast Asian Studies Collection that is considered among the best in the world. The library also offers academic support, including writing help at the Student Writing Center and peer tutoring at the Academic Advancement Center.
"To us, you can't offer too many ways for a person to begin to interact with the library resources," Saines says.
She believes one of the library's best-kept secrets is its staff.
"We have trained librarians on staff during every open hour and specialist librarians available by appointment. We love to answer your questions, and we're happy to spend time with students to focus their research topics," she says.
So far, the library staff has had one jump drive drawing and dispensed several random prizes. The code game runs through Oct. 2.